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THE  SHAKESPEARE  REVIVAL 

AND  THE   STRATFORD-UPON-AVON 
MOVEMENT 


Photo  by  D.  McNeill,  Stratford-upon-A-von 

SHAKESPEARE'S   TOMB,   BENEATH    THE    BUST    AND   TABLET   TO    HIS 

MEMORY,  IN  THE  CHURCH   OF  THE  HOLY  TRINITY,  AS 

GARLANDED  WITH   FLOWERS   ON   APRIL  23. 


THE  SHAKESPEARE 
REVIVAL 

AND   THE  STRATFORD-UPON-AVON 
MOVEMENT 


BY 

REGINALD  R.  BUCKLEY 

WITH  CHAPTERS  ON   FOLK-ART  BY   MARY  NEAL 

A   FOREWORD    BY    F.    R.   BENSON 

AND   AN    INTRODUCTION    BY 

ARTHUR   HUTCHINSON 


ILLUSTRATED 


LONDON :   GEORGE  ALLEN  &  SONS 

44  &  45   RATHBONE   PLACE 

1911 

[All  rights  reserved] 


Printed  by  BALLANTYNK,  HANSON  &*  Co. 
At  the  Ballantyne  Press,  Edinburgh 


TO 

THE   GOVERNORS 

OF    THE 

SHAKESPEARE   MEMORIAL   THEATRE 
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON 

THIS    BOOK    IS 

BY    PERMISSION    DEDICATED 

AS  A  TRIBUTE  TO  THEIR  WORK 


516882 


CONTENTS 

PAGE 

FOREWORD.     BY  F.  R   BENSON  xi 

THE  SHAKESPEARE  MEMORIAL  THEATRE  AT  STRAT 

FORD-UPON-AVON  :     A    RECORD    OF    ITS    WORK. 

ARTHUR  HUTCHINSON 3 

THE  NATURE  OF  DRAMA 
BY  REGINALD  R.  BUCKLEY 

I.  THE  BEGINNINGS  OF  FOLK-ART         .        .      43 

II.  THE  ENGLISH  DRAMA  BEFORE  SHAKESPEARE      66 

III.  CONCERNING  WILLIAM  SHAKESPEARE         .      83 

IV.  THE  SPIRIT  OF  SHAKESPEARE    .        .         .102 
V.  A    TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS:    A    PERSONAL 

REVERIE 119 

VI.   WAGNER  AND   His  RELATION  TO  SHAKE- 
SPEARE .        .         .        .         .        .        .136 

VII.   CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE      .         .153 
VIII.   THE  PRACTICALITIES  OF  ART    .         .        -177 

FOLK-ART 
BY  MARY  NEAL 

I.   THE    STRATFORD  -  UPON  -  AVON    FESTIVAL 

MOVEMENT  AND  ITS  DEVELOPMENTS     .     191 
vii 


CONTENTS 

PACK 

II.   THE  REVIVAL  OF  FOLK- ART — 

I.  IN  ENGLAND 214 

II.  THE  REVIVAL  OF  FOLK-ART  AND  THE 

DRAMA  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES        .     224 

APPENDIX 
How  TO  TAKE  PART  IN  THE  MOVEMENT        ,        .     231 


via 


ILLUSTRATIONS 


SHAKESPEARE'S  TOMB,  BENEATH  THE  BUST  AND  TABLET  TO 
HIS  MEMORY,  IN  THE  CHURCH  OF  THE  HOLY  TRINITY, 
AS  GARLANDED  WITH  FLOWERS  ON  APRIL  23 

Frontispiece 
Photo  by  D.  Me N fill,  Stratford-upon-Avon 

THE  SHAKESPEARE  MEMORIAL  THEATRE  AT 

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON     ....  Facing  p.     4 

Photo  by  A.  Tyler,  Stratford-upon-Avon 

MR,  F.  R.  BENSON  AS  HENRY  V.  .       .       .        „          13 

Photo  by  Chancellor,  Dublin 

MRS.  F.  R.  BENSON  AS  CONSTANCE  „          32 

Photo  by  /,.  Caswall  Smith 

Miss  ELLEN  TERRY  AS  PORTIA  „         49 

Photo  by  Window  6*  Grove 

SIR  HERBERT  BEERBOHM  TREE  AS  HAMLET         „         64 

Photo  by  W.  &>  D.  Downey 

Miss  GENEVIEVE  WARD  AS  VOLUMNIA  81 

Photo  by  L.  Caswall  Smith 

MR.  J.  FORBES-ROBERTSON  AS  HAMLET  AND 

Miss  GERTRUDE  ELIOT  AS  OPHELIA      .         „          96 

Photo  by  W.  &  D,  Downey 

MR.  LEWIS  WALLER  AS  ROMEO     ...        „        113 

Photo  by  Lang  far 

ix 


ILLUSTRATIONS 

Miss  CONSTANCE  COLLIER  AS  JULIET    .       .  Facing  p.  128 

Photo  by  L.  Caswall  Smith 

MR.  OTHO  STUART  AS  BRUTUS  „    145 

Photo  by  D.  McNeill,  Stratford-upon-Avon 

MR.  ARTHUR  BOURCHIER  AS  SHYLOCK  AND 

Miss  VIOLET  VANBRUGH  AS  PORTIA       .        „        160 

Photo  by  Ellis  &  Walery 

MR.  OSCAR  ASCHE  AS  OTHELLO  „        177 

Photo  by  C.  Histed 

MR.  HENRY  AINLEY  AS  ROMEO  „        192 

Photo  by  Ellis  6s  Walery 

THE  LATE  GEORGE  R.  WEIR  AS  SIR  TOBY 

BELCH „        209 

Photo  by  W.  /.  Kilpatrick,  Dublin 

MORRIS  DANCERS  AT  STRATFORD-UPON-AVON        „        224 

Photo  by  Central  News  Agency 


FOREWORD 

I  AM  very  proud  to  be  asked  to  write  a  Fore- 
word to  a  work  published  by  a  firm  so  long 
associated  with  the  name  of  John  Ruskin ; 
proud  that  our  work  at  Stratford  should  be 
regarded,  by  the  writers  of  it,  as  part  of 
that  campaign  against  the  unloveliness  of 
modern  life  in  which  Ruskin  was  the  pro- 
tagonist. The  outlines  of  the  dream  that 
Mr.  Charles  Flower  and  the  founders  of  the 
Stratford-upon-Avon  Shakespeare  Memorial, 
their  friends  and  successors,  have  been  dream- 
ing and  developing  for  more  than  thirty  years 
may  be  summed  up  in  the  following  general 
terms. 

Even  if  the  exact  shape  of  the  towers  be 
lost  in  the  clouds,  the  rainbow  and  the  sunshine, 
seemingly  variable  because  ever  growing ;  if 
for  a  moment  one  is  bewildered  by  the  vast- 
ness  of  its  possibilities  for  the  future,  one  is 
recalled  to  action  in  the  present  by  the  practical 
example  of  the  founder  and  by  the  joyous  stir 
and  bustle  attending  the  Festival.  One  of  the 

xi 


FOREWORD 

pleasures  of  the  dream  is  that  its  foundation  is 
on  solid  earth,  formulated  in  bricks  and  mortar 
linked  to  Warwickshire  soil  by  creeping  plants 
and  twining  flowers.  For  the  man  and  his  co- 
workers,  who  will  always  have  the  chief  honour 
of  designing  the  fabric,  like  the  rest  of  our  race, 
could  do  as  well  as  dream.  The  picture  has 
many  settings.  Here  is  one  of  them. 

It  is  the  first  of  May.  The  dreamer  is 
lying  on  a  smooth  lawn  by  the  river-side ; 
part  of  the  garden  attached  to  the  theatre 
buildings.  To  the  right,  through  a  frame  of 
rush  and  willow,  yew  and  cedar  and  elm,  the 
spire  of  the  church  looks  down  on  the  mill 
where  Celt,  Roman,  Saxon  and  Dane,  Nor- 
man and  Englishman  for  centuries  have 
ground  their  harvest.  In  front,  beyond  the 
river,  stretches  the  playing-field  of  the  town ; 
secured  to  the  towns-folk  for  ever  by  wise 
burgesses.  The  playing-fields  are  deserted 
to-day,  save  for  a  few  youths  enjoying  the  last 
kick  of  the  season  at  a  football,  or  their  first 
renewal  of  the  controversy  between  cricket  bat 
and  ball.  The  leisure  energy  of  the  com- 
munity is  occupied  elsewhere. 

The  clock  in  the  old  church  tower  strikes 
twelve,  and  the  jackdaws  and  the  starlings 
notify  to  the  rooks  that  another  sun  has 

xii 


FOREWORD 

reached  its  zenith ;  but  the  rooks,  busy  giving 
their  offspring  a  final  lesson  in  aviation, 
merely  caw  back  composedly,  "  It  is  so,  all 
is  well."  On  the  river  one  or  two  boats  and 
the  swans  with  their  cygnets  are  to  be  seen 
making  for  the  croft  on  the  other  side  of  the 
theatre,  where  the  ban  or  militia  were  wont  in 
ancient  days  to  assemble  for  practice  in  arms. 
The  Bancroft,1  too,  is  the  perpetual  possession 
of  the  people,  thanks  to  the  same  wise  policy. 

But  hark !  I  hear  the  minstrels  play,  and 
after  them  I  know  the  rout  is  coming. 
"  Such  a  May  morning  never  was  before," 
at  least  within  our  time.  On  to  the  green 
of  the  Bancroft  dance  the  singing  children 
of  Stratford  and  the  neighbouring  villages. 
Young  and  old  to  the  number  of  some 
thousands  follow  after  to  see  the  final  cere- 
mony, to  tune  their  hearts  to  the  rhythm  of 
the  final  dance,  and  carry  back  to  their  homes 
the  human  harmony  of  the  final  song. 

The  Mayor  in  his  chain  of  office,  supported 
by  the  notables  of  the  district,  makes  a  cheery 
little  speech.  He  hands  a  bouquet  to  the 

1  The  derivation  of  the  word  "  Bankcroft "  is  more  usually 
given  as  that  of  the  croft  or  meadow  on  the  bank.  Perhaps 
seeing  the  stress  Skakespeare  lays  on  national  self-defence 
the  other  derivation  given  in  the  text  may  be  allowed, 

xiii 


FOREWORD 

Queen  of  the  May,  a  fair  little  maiden  seated 
on  a  throne  of  flowers  in  the  midst  of  her  court. 
The  rough  spear,  entwined  with  ivy  pointing 
upwards,  connects  the  eternal  homage  paid  by 
age  to  youth  with  the  primitive  wo/ship  from 
our  ancestors  to  the  earth  and  the  sun.  Then 
the  Folk-songs  of  our  forefathers  ring  out 
blithely  on  the  spring  air,  and  the  twinkling 
feet  of  the  little  dancers  on  the  grass  catch 
something  of  the  rhythm  of  Shakespeare's 
verse  and  the  music  of  the  spheres.  Among 
the  crowd  are  many  people  from  over-seas ; 
blood  brothers  of  the  race,  fellow  subjects 
from  distant  parts  of  our  Empire,  friends  from 
foreign  countries  all  the  world  over — Scandi- 
navia, the  Netherlands,  France,  Germany, 
Russia,  Austria,  Italy,  Switzerland,  and  the 
Balkans.  The  Spaniard,  the  Bohemian,  the 
African,  the  Asiatic  recognise  in  many  of  the 
dances  some  primitive  ceremony  still  in  vogue 
among  their  own  folk  to  this  day.  In  the 
Broom  dance  of  an  elderly  but  active  villager 
the  American  from  Honolulu  notes  as  an  old 
friend  the  spear  dance  of  the  Pacific  Islanders. 
The  Indian  Prince,  guest  of  honour  on  this 
occasion,  expresses  his  pleasure  at  being 
present  with  words  full  of  meaning.  "  I  will 
take  back  to  my  country  the  story  of  your 

xiv 


FOREWORD 

song  and  your  dance  and  your  Shakespeare 
Festival,  that  my  people  may  have  more  joy 
in  their  lives,  and  that  your  folk  and  my  folk 
may  better  understand  each  other's  religion." 
As  said  an  Eastern  in  a  byegone  age,  "Your 
people  shall  be  my  people,  and  your  gods  my 
gods."  And  then  the  May-day  part  of  the 
Festival  ends  and  the  crowd  disperse  to  their 
various  tasks,  and  the  Queen  of  the  May  steals 
forth  in  the  afternoon  to  lay  her  crown  and  the 
bouquet,  given  by  the  Mayor,  on  her  father's 
recently  made  grave.  For  her,  as  for  the 
others,  sorrow  sojourneth  but  for  a  season  in 
the  promise  of  the  May. 

"  The  earth,  that's  nature's  mother,  is  her  tomb ; 
What  is  her  burying  grave,  that  is  her  womb. 
And  from  her  womb  children  of  divers  kind 
We  sucking  on  her  natural  bosom  find ; 
Many  for  many  virtues  excellent, 
None  but  for  some,  and  yet  all  different. 
O,  mickle  is  the  powerful  grace  that  lies 
In  herbs,  plants,  stones,  and  their  true  qualities." 

The  dreamer  watches  the  streams  of  people 
scatter,  some  to  the  library  or  to  the  picture 
gallery,  some  to  study  the  heraldic  meaning 
of  the  decorations  in  the  streets — the  blazon 
of  achievement  won  by  Warwickshire  worthies 
or  heroes  of  Shakespeare's  verse ;  some  to  the 


FOREWORD 

birthplace  or  the  school,  the  cottage  of  Anne 
Hathaway,  the  home  of  Shakespeare's  mother, 
Mary  Arden,  or  the  monument  in  the  church. 
The  bands  of  teachers  troop  off  to  their  daily 
lessons  in  Folk-song  and   Folk-dances,  or  to 
hear  a  lecture  on  Folk- Lore,  or  Shakespeare's 
Girls   and   their   Flowers.        Some   repair   to 
the  exhibition  of  arms  and  armour,  of  house- 
hold  gear   and   furniture  —  the   furniture   and 
metal-work  made  in  the  days  when  handicraft 
and  skilled  workmanship  were  the  cherished 
possessions  of  every  artisan.    Or  the  onlooker 
may  have  followed  the  man  with  the  spade, 
unconsciously  helping  to  solve  the  problem  of 
how  to  make  a  profit  of  £60  a  year  out  of 
a  single  acre.     His  thoughts,  however,  going 
back  to  the  land  and  the  garden  city,  would  be 
interrupted  by  another  phase  in  this  cradle  of 
English  yeoman  life.     He  catches  sight  of  a 
country    waggon    drawn    by   a    gaily -decked 
horse  half-hidden  with  tapestry,  embroideries, 
and  woven  webs,  whence  look  out  the  wistful 
faces  of  some  workers  from  the  neighbouring 
school  of  needlework,  not   strong  enough   to 
join    in    the    dances    except    with    their    deft 
hands  and  hearts.     Some,  had  he  questioned 
them,    would   have   told   him  that  their   poet 
had  shown  them  in  the  Playhouse  how  "we 

xvi 


FOREWORD 

English  became  what  we  are  and  how  we 
can  keep  so."  He  would  have  reverently  re- 
cognised that  power  of  growth  in  the  great 
Master's  work  that  makes  him  eternally 
modern,  so  that  the  people  of  a  thousand 
years  hence  will  still  have  their  lesson  to 
learn  to  apply  properly  the  wisdom  of  the 
Anglo-Celtic  seer  to  the  practical  details  of 
their  everyday  life.  But  now  the  crowd  are 
beginning  to  re-assemble  that  they  may  attend 
the  evening  performance,  and  the  dreamer 
will  have  to  hurry  off  to  get  his  place  at  the 
theatre.  It  may  be  that  he  will  see  some 
pilgrim  from  the  country-side,  visiting  the 
theatre  for  the  first  time  in  her  life,  drop  on 
her  knees  and  pray,  vaguely  realising  that  this 
Festival  of  Drama  may  have  something  to  do 
with  the  relation  of  man  to  God.  He  may 
hear  in  the  theatre  such  remarks  as  "  He  is  a 
clever  one  that  wrote  yon."  Or  the  simple 
conclusion,  breathlessly  uttered  at  the  end  of 
Macbeth,  "  Aye,  but  that  chap  was  a  waster." 
Then  he  will  watch  the  audience  disperse  to 
rest,  and  he  will  know  the  pilgrims  have  gained 
something  of  strength  and  knowledge,  "Aye, 
man,  it  helps  one  to  do  a  better  week's  work." 
On  this  starlit  night,  when  the  nightingale 
is  singing,  the  triumph  of  the  spring  in  every 

xvii  b 


FOREWORD 

hedgerow  round,  the  ceremony  grows  on  his 
fancy  and  the  dreamer  returns  to  the  river- 
side to  think  it  out.  And  now  in  place  of  the 
swallows  the  bats  fly  their  cloistered  flights — 

"  The  shard-borne  beetle  with  his  drowsy  hums 
Hath  rung  night's  yawning  peal." 

The  waters  of  the  Avon  reflect  the  music  of 
the  myriad  of  young-eyed  cherubim,  and  as  in 
the  surface  of  a  shield  the  dreamer  seeks  to 
catch  a  vision  of  the  future.  His  fancy  builds 
upon  the  events  of  the  day,  upon  the  shadow  of 
the  theatre,  as  he  sees  it  reflected  in  the  starry 
depths.  There  rises  before  him  with  added 
courts  and  upper  storeys  a  temple  dedicated  to 
the  genius  of  the  Anglo-Celtic  race.  Around 
are  shrines  to  the  Greek  and  the  Indian  Sage, 
to  Aeschylus,  to  Phidias,  to  Plato,  to  Michael 
Angelo  and  Beethoven,  where  the  service  of 
song  is  perpetually  celebrated  by  priests  and 
pilgrims.  Side  by  side  with  the  Morality, 
the  Mystery,  and  the  Miracle  play  are  per- 
formed Sakuntala  and  the  Drama  of  the  East. 
The  Orphic  hymn  in  its  early  and  latest  de- 
velopment mixes  with  the  bardic  drama  of  the 
Ivernian  minnesingers.  Goethe,  Cervantes, 
Moliere,  and  the  moderns  from  every  country 
contribute  their  offering  at  the  dramatic  altar, 

xviii 


FOREWORD 

send  their  message  of  poetry — the  making 
of  life  and  action  for  the  children  of  men. 
Under  its  roof,  books,  pictures,  statues  help 
to  express  and  formulate  the  work  of  this 
college  of  humanity.  Stratford,  Warwickshire, 
the  British  Empire,  and  America  join  in  an 
informal  conference  of  the  Anglo-Celtic  con- 
federation, With  their  differences  adjusted 
in  a  world  of  art,  music  and  literature  their 
common  race  possession,  they  will  realise,  as 
they  join  hands  with  the  subtle  strength  of 
India,  the  triumph  of  the  Aryan  Empire,  which 
seems  on  this  night  of  May  to  be  drawing 
nearer  with  the  dawn,  for  the  pilgrims  who 
have  realised  Shakespeare's  message  of  strong 
and  strenuous  self-control.  For  them  the 
blending  of  East  and  West  and  the  recon- 
ciliation of  Black  and  White  can  be  left  to 
the  coming  of  the  years. 

"  From  the  four  corners  of  the  earth  they  come 
To  kiss  this  shrine,  this  mortal  breathing  saint," 

bringing  in  their  train  the  fervour  of  the 
Romance  nations,  the  discipline  of  the  Teuton, 
the  primitive  vigour  of  the  Slav,  the  enterprise 
of  the  Scandinavian,  the  mystic  reverence  of 
the  Oriental. 

The  gazer  in  the  stream  can,  in  fancy,  hear 
xix 


FOREWORD 

the  prayer  of  agony,  the  praise  of  joy,  the 
lyric  of  love,  the  paean  of  the  battle,  the  call 
of  the  blood,  the  anthem  of  a  new  awakened 
and  a  larger  faith,  mingled  with  the  thou- 
sand voices  of  our  mother  Earth,  as  the 
Master  Singer  unrolls  his  written  scroll. 
Above  these  variant  notes,  dominant,  insis- 
tent, in  the  great  peace  of  the  night  sounds  the 
call  of  the  Higher  Humanity,  throbs  the  note 
of  nature  that  makes  the  whole  world  kin. 

"  If  it  be  not  now,  yet  it  will  come"  ;  let  be 
— the  workers  round  the  temple  can  wait. 

F.  R.  BENSON. 


xx 


THE   SHAKESPEARE   MEMORIAL 

THEATRE   AT   STRATFORD- 

UPON-AVON 

A  RECORD  OF  ITS  WORK 
BY  ARTHUR  HUTCHINSON 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    MEMORIAL 

THEATRE    AT    STRATFORD- 

UPON-AVON 

A  FALLACY  very  commonly  maintained  by 
those  who  have  set  themselves  to  doubt  the 
identity  of  the  play-actor  of  Stratford-upon- 
Avon  with  the  author  of  the  great  literary 
heritage  known  as  the  work  of  William 
Shakespeare,  has  consisted  in  the  frequent 
statement  that  Shakespeare  himself  attained 
but  little  glory  while  he  lived,  and  gained  still 
less  tribute  from  those  who  came  after  him 
within  the  century  or  more  that  immediately 
followed  his  death. 

It  is  a  point  of  curiosity  that  any  such 
view  should  ever  have  gained  currency,  either 
in  print  or  in  conversational  argument,  for, 
as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  praise  of  Shakespeare 
went  onward  in  steady  development  and  accu- 
mulation, from  the  tributes  of  his  contempo- 
raries and  immediate  successors  in  literature 
— "Rare  Ben  Jonson,"  Francis  Meres  ("the 


SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Muses  would  speak  with  Shakespeare's  fine 
filed  phrase,  if  they  would  speak  English"), 
Richard  Barnfield,  John  Weever,  Michael 
Drayton,  and  others — to  the  stately  eulogy  of 
Milton's  famous  sonnet. 

From  Milton's  time  onward,  through  the 
modish  literature  of  the  Restoration  period, 
and  the  more  pedantic  feeling  of  eighteenth- 
century  criticism,  approval  of  Shakespeare 
progressed,  until  the  more  humane  spirit  of 
nineteenth-century  letters  completed  the  shrine 
of  appreciation  that  had  gradually  been  built 
around  the  name  and  work  of  Stratford's  son, 
who,  in  Ben  Jonson's  phrase,  "  was  not  for 
an  age,  but  for  all  time."  The  compiler  of 
"  Shakespeare's  Centurie  of  Prayse"  gave  an 
interesting  survey  of  the  continuity  with  which 
homage  was  paid  to  Shakespeare  throughout 
the  first  century  after  his  death,  and  Mr. 
C.  E.  Hughes,  in  his  delightful  volume,  "  The 
Praise  of  Shakespeare,"  presents  a  still  more 
comprehensive  record,  and  one  brought  down 
to  the  tributes  of  our  own  day. 

It  is,  however,  somewhat  curious,  but  still 
the  fact,  that  while  the  literary  love  for  Shake- 
speare's work,  and  the  resulting  increase  in  the 
study  of  it,  marched  steadily  onward,  belief 
in  the  poet's  plays  as  entertainments  for 

4 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

the  theatre-going  public  gradually  decreased, 
from  the  days  of  their  "improvement"  and 
adaptation  for  the  artificial  tastes  of  the  period 
by  Dryden,  Nahum  Tate,  and  other  play- 
wrights, until,  by  the  middle  of  the  Victorian 
era,  only  some  half  dozen,  or  but  few  more 
than  that,  of  the  greater  tragedies  and  comedies 
could  be  said  any  longer  to  hold  the  stage. 
Samuel  Phelps,  in  his  memorable  management 
of  Sadler's  Wells  Theatre,  did  his  utmost  to 
remove  this  reproach  ;  but,  with  the  gradual 
passing  of  the  actors  trained  in  the  traditions 
of  the  old  " stock"  companies,  all  but  the  more 
admittedly  popular  of  Shakespeare's  plays  were 
relegated  from  the  stage  to  the  study  again. 
There  they  awaited  the  full  renaissance  of  the 
Shakespearean  drama  on  the  stage  under  the 
enlightened  rule  of  the  more  literary  of  our 
modern  actor-managers. 

Meanwhile  Shakespeare's  native  town  of 
Stratford-upon-Avon  was  in  even  poorer  plight 
than  the  metropolis  or  the  larger  provincial 
cities,  since  it  obviously  could  not  offer  the 
strongest  form  of  inducement  to  the  actor- 
managers  of  succeeding  generations  to  make 
any  lengthy  sojourn  within  its  gates  for  the 
sole  purpose  of  producing  the  Shakespearean 
drama.  For  many  years  it  could  not  even 

5 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

extend  the  hospitality  of  a  permanent  theatre 
for  stage  visitors  of  repute  at  any  ordinary 
period  of  the  year,  but  erected  a  temporary 
pavilion  for  the  occasional  commemoration  of 
that  son  who  in  its  noble  parish  church  lay  "as 
lord,  not  tenant  to  the  grave." 

The  first  recorded  celebration  of  Shake- 
speare's memory  in  his  native  place,  as  dis- 
tinct from  the  ordinary  performance  of  his 
more  popular  plays  by  strolling  players, — among 
whom  are  known  to  have  been  both  Peg 
Woffington  and  Roger  Kemble,  the  father  of 
the  famous  Mrs.  Siddons — was  a  performance 
of  "Othello"  given  in  1748  by  a  touring 
manager  of  some  repute  named  John  Ward, 
the  maternal  grandfather  of  Mrs.  Siddons,  for 
the  raising  of  funds  to  repair  Shakespeare's 
monument  in  the  church. 

The  performance  realised  ^17,  and  the 
occasion  has  been  handed  down  to  the  present 
time  by  a  curiously  direct  memento  in  the  form 
of  a  pair  of  buckskin  gloves  which  are  believed 
to  have  belonged  originally  to  Shakespeare. 
They  were  presented,  as  such,  in  recognition 
of  the  performance,  to  the  actor  John  Ward, 
by  Shakespeare  Hart,  a  descendant  of  the 
poet's  sister.  Ward  subsequently  gave  them 
to  David  Garrick,  from  whom  they  passed  to 

6 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

Mrs.  Siddons,  and  through  her  to  Fanny 
Kemble,  who  presented  them  to  Dr.  Horace 
Howard  Furness,  the  eminent  American  autho- 
rity on  Shakespeare's  work. 

The  first  Shakespearean  Commemoration  of 
any  organised  importance  was  a  "  Jubilee" 
promoted  by  David  Garrick  in  1769.  This 
was  in  its  way  a  very  brilliant  affair,  but  con- 
cerned itself  less  with  the  actual  plays  of  Shake- 
speare than  has  since  become  the  custom, 
banquets,  balls,  and  even  horse-racing  forming 
the  larger  part  of  its  programme. 

The  opening  of  a  regular  theatre  in  1827 
led  to  the  visiting  of  Stratford  by  many  well- 
graced  players.  Hither  came  the  Keans,  father 
and  son,  Macready,  Dillon,  Mrs.  Nisbett,  and 
others  who  made  the  theatrical  history  of  their 
day.  The  more  popular  of  Shakespeare's 
plays  were  given  from  time  to  time  by  these 
and  less  distinguished  actors,  but  after  a  time 
the  theatre  fell  on  evil  days.  At  last,  in  1872, 
it  was  bought  by  Mr.  Halliwell-Phillipps, 
and  pulled  down,  amid  general  approval,  in 
order  that  the  ground  which  it  now  cumbered 
to  no  sufficient  purpose  might  be  restored  to 
its  former  state,  as  part  of  the  garden  belong- 
ing to  New  Place,  the  home  of  Shakespeare 
after  his  withdrawal  from  London  life. 

7 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

In  the  course  of  these  ordinary  professional 
performances  there  were  held  two  Festivals 
— one  in  1827  and  the  other  in  1830 — which 
were  intended  to  inaugurate  a  series  to  be  held 
once  every  three  years,  but  the  scheme  fell 
through  after  the  second  celebration.  There- 
after all  commemoration  ceremonies  fell  into 
abeyance  until  1864,  when  the  tercentenary  of 
the  poet's  birth  was  marked  by  a  series  of 
performances  of  his  plays,  in  which  Buck- 
stone,  Compton,  Creswick,  and  Sothern  took 
part. 

The  great  success  of  this  Festival,  which  was 
held  in  a  temporary  building  erected  for  the 
purpose,  inspired  local  enthusiasts  with  a  wish 
for  a  more  permanent  headquarters  for  future 
celebrations.  At  length,  in  1875,  a  few  Strat- 
ford-upon-Avon  men,  led  by  the  late  Charles 
Edward  Flower,  formed  themselves  into  an 
Association  for  the  purpose  of  building,  as  a 
memorial  to  Shakespeare  in  his  native  town, 
a  theatre  to  form  a  permanent  centre  for  the 
frequent  revival  of  his  works,  without  regard 
to  the  limitations  all  too  long  imposed  upon 
the  selection  of  plays  by  the  preferences  of 
"star"  actors  or  the  determination  of  the 
older  playgoing  public  that  only  a  few  of 
the  most  famous  tragedies  and  comedies  of 

8 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

the  poet  could  be  considered  at  all  attractive 
in  the  theatre. 

The  scheme  also  included  a  library  for  the 
collection  and  preservation  of  the  literature 
connected  with  the  poet's  work,  and  a  picture 
gallery  for  the  display  of  art  chiefly  inspired  by 
his  themes,  whether  on  canvas  or  in  stone  or 
other  medium.  In  1877  this  project  was  ful- 
filled by  the  opening  of  the  handsome  Memorial 
Theatre,  which,  with  its  fine  library  and  picture 
gallery  and  its  spacious  gardens  on  the  bank 
of  the  Avon,  has  in  the  years  that  have  passed 
become  a  very  real  and  valuable  centre  of 
Shakespearean  study. 

It  is  thirty-four  years  since  the  Shakespeare 
Memorial  Theatre  was  built  at  Stratford-upon- 
Avon,  and  to-day,  in  1911,  it  remains  the  only 
endowed  theatre  in  England.  It  is  the  only 
theatre  of  which  the  charter  enables  its  Gover- 
nors to  work  not  for  dividends  but  solely  for 
the  particular  interests  of  dramatic  art  which 
they  have  in  view.  "  Organise  the  theatre," 
said  Matthew  Arnold,  and  the  Governors  of 
the  Shakespeare  Memorial  Theatre  have  done 
their  best  to  endow  and  organise  "  the  constant 
reiteration  of  Shakespeare's  words  "  in  all  their 
extraordinary  truth  of  inspiration  and  nobility 
of  ideal,  individual  and  national. 

9 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Between  the  years  1875  an<^  1908  Mr.  Charles 
Flower  and  his  wife,  who  long  survived  him, 
contributed  some  ,£50,000  to  the  building  and 
endowment  of  the  Memorial,  and  at  her  death 
Mrs.  Flower  bequeathed  to  the  Association  the 
riverside  property  of  Avonbank  which  adjoins 
the  original  grounds  of  the  Memorial  buildings, 
and  therefore  considerably  extends  their  domain 
for  the  benefit  of  future  generations. 

To  illustrate  the  principles  upon  which  the 
theatre  is  governed,  it  may  be  of  interest  to 
quote  here  a  clause  of  the  Articles  of  Associa- 
tion : — 

"  The  income  and  property  of  the  Associa- 
tion, whencesoever  derived,  shall  be  applied 
solely  towards  the  promotion  of  the  objects  of 
the  Association  as  set  forth  in  this  Memorandum 
of  Association  :  and  no  portion  thereof  shall  be 
paid  or  transferred,  directly  or  indirectly,  by 
way  of  dividend  or  bonus  or  otherwise  how- 
soever by  way  of  profit,  to  the  persons  who  at 
any  time  are,  or  have  been,  Members  of  the 
Association,  or  to  any  of  them  or  to  any  person 
claiming  through  any  of  them.  Provided  that 
nothing  herein  shall  prevent  the  payment  in 
good  faith  of  remuneration  to  any  officers  or 
servants  of  the  Association  or  to  any  Members 

10 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

of  the  Association  or  other  person  in  return  for 
any  services  actually  rendered  to  the  Associa- 
tion." 

In  the  Memorial  Theatre,  which  thus  came 
into  existence,  Shakespeare's  reputed  birthday 
and  his  probable  death-day  too,  April  23rd, 
and  a  varying  number  of  preceding  or  ensuing 
days,  have  for  the  past  thirty  years  seen  the 
performance  of  a  number  of  the  poet's  plays. 
And  each  year  has  added  to  this  list  at  least 
one  play  not  previously  performed  there,  until 
but  three  remain  unproduced,  "  Titus  Andro- 
nicus,"  "  Troilus  and  Cressida,"  and  "All's 
Well  that  Ends  Well." 

To  have  added  such  a  goodly  number  of 
previously  neglected  works  to  the  ranks  of 
the  comparatively  few  which  have  been  at  all 
frequently  glorified  by  sumptuous  " long-run" 
revivals  would  have  amounted  to  an  achieve- 
ment more  than  justifying  the  Memorial  Theatre 
of  its  critics,  even  if  the  plays  had  been  mounted 
but  now  and  again.  But  with  the  growth  of 
the  Festival's  audiences,  and  the  consequent 
extension  of  the  annual  series  of  performances, 
it  has  now  for  some  years  been  possible  to 
repeat  quite  a  large  number  of  these  revivals 
every  year.  Thus  Shakespeare's  town  can 

ii 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

to-day  with  honourable  pride  claim  to  be  the 
one  place  in  the  world  where  a  visitor  can 
witness  as  many  as  sixteen  of  the  poet's  plays 
within  a  brief  three  weeks'  season. 

Beginning  its  work  at  a  time  when  even  the 
traditions  of  Shakespearean  acting  had  fallen 
out  of  memory  with  the  passing  of  the  older 
generations  of  players,  and  only  a  few  of  the 
more  familiar  of  the  poet's  tragedies  and 
comedies  were  at  all  frequently  performed 
upon  the  English  stage,  the  Council  of  the 
Memorial  Theatre  set  itself  to  restore  to  the 
modern  theatre  the  long  array  of  Shakespeare's 
tragedies,  comedies,  and  historical  plays,  which 
had  all  too  long  been  omitted  from  any 
theatrical  repertoire  in  the  poet's  own  country, 
and  could  be  seen  performed  only  in  the  sub- 
sidised theatres  of  Germany.  The  opening 
production,  in  1877,  was  "  Much  Ado  about 
Nothing,"  in  which  Lady  Martin,  the  famous 
Helen  Faucit  of  earlier  days,  emerged  from 
her  retirement  and  played  Beatrice  to  the 
Benedick  of  Barry  Sullivan.  "  Hamlet,"  "As 
You  Like  It,"  and  other  plays  were  also  in- 
cluded in  the  programme  of  this  first  of  the 
modern  Festivals. 

In  the  following  year  the  Memorial  Coun- 
cil again  availed  itself  of  Barry  Sullivan's 

12 


Photo  by  Chancellor,  Dublin 

MR.  F.  R.  BENSON   AS  HENRY  V. 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

experience  for  the  conduct  of  the  revivals,  and 
then  for  two  years  Mr.  Edward  Compton,  whose 
distinguished  father  had  contributed  much  to 
the  success  of  the  1864  Celebration,  was  en- 
trusted with  the  artistic  control  of  a  programme 
which  included  "  Twelfth  Night,"  "  Romeo  and 
Juliet,"  and  "The  Comedy  of  Errors"  as  chief 
novelties.  In  1883  Mr.  Elliot  Galer,  an  Eng- 
lishman chiefly  associated  as  actor  with  the 
American  stage,  added  "Macbeth,"  "  Henry 
IV.,  Part  I.,"  and  "  King  Lear"  to  the  list  of 
the  Memorial  productions,  and  in  the  following 
two  years  Miss  Alleyn  contributed  "  Cymbe- 
line,"  "  Measure  for  Measure,"  and  "  Love's 
Labour  Lost." 

The  list  of  productions  already  wears  an  im- 
portant air,  but  it  must  be  admitted  that  they 
had  so  far  been  leavened  with  sundry  modern 
plays  that  were  in  no  sense  worthy  of  the 
occasion.  The  real  fact  probably  was  that 
the  affair  still  remained  for  the  most  part  a 
local  one,  and  local  audiences  were  not  large 
enough  to  require  several  performances  of  one 
play.  The  Festival  had  still  to  await  the 
gradual  growth  of  a  gathering  of  visitors  such 
as  now  supports  it.  In  1886  the  control  of 
the  theatrical  arrangements  was  for  the  first 
time  entrusted  by  the  Memorial  Council  to 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Mr.  F.  R.  Benson,  who  had  not  long  be- 
fore organised  his  now  famous  Shakespearean 
Repertoire  Company.  Since  then  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Benson  and  their  company  have  been 
responsible  for  the  productions  of  the  Memo- 
rial Theatre,  with  the  exception  of  those  of 
1889-90,  when  the  performances  were  directed 
by  the  late  Osmond  Tearle,  and  of  1895,  when 
Mr.  Ben  Greet  was  invited  to  produce  the 
series  of  plays  for  the  year,  and  with  his  re- 
vival of  "The  Winter's  Tale,"  with  Mr.  H.  B. 
Irving,  Miss  Beatrice  Lamb,  Miss  Dorothea 
Baird,  and  Miss  Louie  Freear  in  the  cast, 
made  a  notable  addition  to  the  Memorial 
Theatre's  record. 

With  the  more  continuous  policy  made  pos- 
sible by  a  single  directorate  the  reputation  of 
the  Memorial  productions  has  grown  apace. 

When  the  Memorial  buildings  were  first 
projected,  many  a  voice  was  raised  to  protest 
that  the  one  thing  lacking  would  prove  to  be 
the  audience.  The  prophecy  has  proved  idle. 
By  1897,  when  the  theatre  was  just  twenty 
years  old,  the  Festival's  brief  span  of  a  week 
was  extended  to  a  fortnight,  and  in  five  years 
came  a  further  expansion  to  three  weeks ; 
and  with  each  added  week  has  come  the 
further  series  of  audiences  that  the  enterprise 

J4 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

required.  And  the  year  1910  brought  the 
most  important  development  of  all  in  the 
establishing  of  a  summer  season  of  a  further 
three  weeks'  period  in  addition  to  the  older 
Spring  Festival.  It  has  thus  become  feasible 
to  arrange  programmes  of  greater  variety  than 
was  possible  in  old  days,  especially  as  Strat- 
ford's expansion  has  found  an  increasingly 
generous  spirit  of  co-operation  on  the  part  of 
many  of  the  most  distinguished  players  of  our 
time.  Thus  a  Festival  programme  nowadays 
provides  not  only  a  galaxy  of  histrionic  talent, 
but  that  further  point  of  interest  which  the 
epicure  in  such  matters  finds  in  studying  the 
work  of  different  players,  of  different  person- 
alities and  temperaments,  as  manifested  in  the 
same  play,  within  a  few  days  of  attendance  at 
the  Memorial  Theatre.  The  Festival  playgoer 
is  thus  afforded  an  opportunity  for  studies  in 
comparative  criticism  which  the  conditions  of 
ordinary  theatrical  management  can  seldom 
offer. 

It  has  been  an  interesting  scheme  that  has 
been  carried  out  during  the  last  few  years  at 
this,  our  only  endowed  theatre,  and  one  that 
has  done  much  to  consolidate  the  artistic 
success  of  the  Memorial  project. 

Each  year  some  play  long   banished   from 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

the  stage  has  been  revived  with  special 
elaboration,  and  at  a  time  when  most  of  these 
works,  such  as  "  A  Midsummer  Night's  Dream/' 
"  The  Tempest,"  "  The  Merry  Wives  of  Wind- 
sor," -Twelfth  Night,"  "Timon  of  Athens," 
and  the  historical  plays,  Roman  and  English, 
had  been  entirely  neglected  on  the  London  or 
provincial  stage  for  practically  a  whole  genera- 
tion, they  were  revived  year  by  year  at  the 
Memorial  Theatre,  and  not  revived  for  the 
moment  merely,  but  carried  away  to  the 
country  as  part  of  the  regular  repertoire  of 
Mr.  Benson's  itinerary  and  brought  back  to 
Stratford-upon-Avon  to  be  repeated  in  support 
of  the  chief  novelty  of  the  next  year's  series. 
"  The  Merry  Wives  of  Windsor,"  for  instance, 
first  revived  at  the  Festival  of  1886,  when  it  had 
not  been  seen  on  the  stage  at  all  for  many  a 
long  day,  has  been  frequently  given  in  ensuing 
years  in  immediate  company  with  the  historical 
plays  in  which  Falstaff  figures.  Thus  the 
Festival  playgoer  has  achieved  Queen  Eliza- 
beth's wish  to  see  the  truculent  knight  pass 
from  the  plays  which  show  him  in  the  real 
history  of  his  day,  but  only  as  a  subordinate 
character,  into  the  role  of  protagonist  in  the 
world  of  merriment  with  which  the  poet  en- 
dowed the  wives  of  Windsor. 

16 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

"Julius  Caesar/'  again,  first  revived  in  1891, 
has  since  been  repeated,  in  all  the  fresh  effec- 
tiveness which  the  historical  plays  acquire  by 
such  proximity  to  each  other,  in  Festival 
programmes  in  which  it  has  stood  midway 
between  the  other  Roman  plays,  "  Coriolanus  " 
and  "  Antony  and  Cleopatra."  Few  points 
of  interest  in  such  matters  could  be  more 
illuminating  than  the  contrast  brought  out  by 
this  juxtaposition  between  the  austerity  of  the 
Rome  of  "  Coriolanus,'*  the  fuller  yet  still  self- 
critical  spirit  of  the  Rome  of  "  Julius  Caesar," 
and  the  sensuous  abandonment  of  that  gor- 
geous East  which  Cleopatra  held  in  fee.  As 
far  as  one  can  gather,  the  experiment  of  giving 
these  three  plays  from  Roman  history  in  close 
conjunction  had  never  before  been  attempted 
on  any  stage,  any  more  than  had  the  intensely 
interesting  scheme  subsequently  carried  out  at 
the  Memorial  Theatre,  by  the  performance,  in 
chronological  sequence,  of  Shakespeare's  long 
series  of  plays  from  English  history. 

The  interest  of  these  chronicle-plays  is  enor- 
mously enhanced  by  their  consecutive  perfor- 
mance in  the  historical  order  of  their  events. 
Such  a  moment  as  Henry  the  Fifth's  prayer  be- 
fore the  Battle  of  Agincourt,  wherein  the  kneel- 
ing monarch  protests  his  attempted  atonement 

17  B 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

for  the  murder  of  Richard  the  Second,  which 
secured  his  father's  crown,  becomes  doubly  poig- 
nant when  the  auditors  have  but  two  nights 
previously  seen  the  hapless  Richard  grace  the 
triumph  of  proud  Bolingbroke,  and  but  one 
night  since  have  witnessed  the  alarums  and  ex- 
cursions which  left  that  same  victorious  Boling- 
broke small  joy  in  his  advancing  years. 

The  trumpet-call  of  English  patriotism 
sounded  at  the  close  of  "  King  John "  forms 
the  prelude  to  Shakespeare's  long  epic  in 
dramatic  form,  which  closes  with  the  vision 
of  national  prosperity  foreshadowed  in  the  bap- 
tismal blessing  of  the  infant  Queen  Elizabeth, 
in  the  last  Act  of  "  Henry  VIII."  Then 
comes  the  Lancastrian  trilogy  which,  as  Pro- 
fessor Dowden  effectively  says,  "commences 
with  'The  Tragedy  of  King  Richard  1 1/  and 
closes  with  '  The  Life  of  King  Henry  V.' 
In  four  successive  plays  is  presented  the  story 
of  the  rise  and  triumph  of  the  House  of  Lan- 
caster. Four  other  plays — the  three  parts  of 
4  King  Henry  VI.'  and  *  The  Tragedy  of 
King  Richard  III/ — present  the  story  of  the 
decline  of  the  House  of  Lancaster  and  the 
rise  and  fall  of  the  House  of  York.  These 
plays  of  the  Wars  of  the  Roses  and  the  life 
and  death  of  the  usurper  Richard  were  the 

18 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

work  of  Shakespeare's  'prentice  hand,  when 
he  worked  in  conjunction  with  some  of  his 
early  contemporaries,  and  was  subject  to  the 
dominant  influence  of  the  greatest  among  them 
—  Christopher  Marlowe.  The  Lancastrian 
group  contains  some  early  work,  for  '  King 
Richard  II.'  cannot  be  remote  in  date  from 
'  King  Richard  III/;  but  the  former  of  these 
plays,  whether  chronologically  the  second  in 
order  or  not,  is  far  more  independent  and 
native  to  Shakespeare's  genius  as  a  dramatic 
work  than  the  Marlowesque  tragedy  of  '  King 
Richard  III.'  The  Lancastrian  group  has  also 
in  it  work  which  represents  Shakespeare's  full 
maturity  as  a  craftsman  in  dramatic  history. 
It  excels  the  Yorkist  series  of  plays  beyond  all 
comparison  in  its  fine  studies  of  character,  in 
its  presentation  of  heroic  action,  and  in  its  free 
and  joyous  humour. 

"The  action  may  be  said  to  move  on  with- 
out interruption  from  the  opening  of  *  King 
Richard  II.'  to  the  close  of  '  King  Henry  V.,' 
from  Bolingbroke's  challenge  of  Norfolk  to 
the  wooing  of  the  French  princess  by  the 
victor  of  Agincourt. 

"  Then  follows  the  series  of  dramas  present- 
ing the  rise  and  fall  of  the  House  of  York,  and 
through  the  eight  plays  which  make  up  the 

19 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

whole  connected  series  of  Lancaster  and  York, 
runs  a  continuous  moral  purpose — a  setting 
forth,  as  it  were,  of  the  justice  of  God  in  the 
history  of  England,  the  sins  of  the  father  being 
visited  upon  the  children  or  upon  the  children's 
children,  until  at  last  on  Bosworth  Field  the 
evil  has  reached  its  term,  and  Richmond  and 
Elizabeth — 

*  The  true  succeeders  of  each  royal  house ' — 

enter  *  by  God's  fair  ordinance/  on  their 
heritage  of  loyalty  and  peace."  l 

Vivid  and  impressive  as  are  each  of  these 
plays  singly,  taken  as  a  consecutive  series  they 
present  us  with  a  vision  of  history  extraordi- 
narily illuminative  of  the  national  character. 

"  Shakespeare's  kings  are  not,  nor  are  meant," 
as  Walter  Pater  says,  "  to  be,  great  men  :  rather, 
little  or  quite  ordinary  humanity,  thrust  upon 
greatness,  with  those  pathetic  results,  the  natural 
self-pity  of  the  weak  heightened  in  them  into 
irresistible  appeal  to  others  as  the  net  result 
of  their  royal  prerogative.  One  after  another, 
they  seem  to  lie  composed  in  Shakespeare's 
embalming  pages,  with  just  that  touch  of 

1  Shakespeare's  "  Henry  IV.,  Parts  I.  and  II.,"  illustrated  by 
Edward  Griitzner.  Introduction  by  Edward  Dowden,  LL.D. 
Cassell  &  Co. 

20 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

Nature  about  them,  making  the  whole  world 
akin,  which  has  infused  into  their  tombs  at 
Westminster  a  rare  poetic  grace."1 

While  these  kings  were  living  their  little 
day  the  national  character  was  evolving,  slowly 
and  imperceptibly.  Even  Shakespeare  him- 
self when  he  wrote  these  plays,  or  rewrote 
them  from  older  models,  could  not  see  their 
full  historical  value,  because  he  lived  too  soon 
to  see  the  long  results  of  the  strange  happen- 
ings which  he  merely  accepted  from  their  first 
chroniclers.  But  he  accepted  with  an  extraordi- 
narily fine  sense  of  selection,  and  throughout 
he  seems  to  see  the  general  trend  of  the  English 
character,  while  monarch  succeeded  monarch 
and  then  went  down  to  "  Death's  public  tiring- 
house/'  In  these  historical  plays,  ranging  from 
"King  John"  to  "  Henry  VIII.,"  he  shows 
himself  not  only  as  a  great  dramatist,  but  as 
an  English  patriot,  illustrating  the  slow  but 
sturdy  growth  of  his  own  countrymen. 

The  splendidly  vivid  interest  with  which 
Shakespeare  has  endowed  this  long  series  of 
pictures  of  the  gradual  but  continuous  evolu- 
tion of  the  English  national  character  under 
many  rulers,  was  emphasised  to  the  full  for 
the  first  time,  for  the  bulk  of  the  audiences,  by 

1  "  Appreciations,"  by  Walter  Pater.     Macmillan  &  Co. 
21 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

the  staging  of  these  plays,  and  the  effect  was 
strangely  moving.  The  series  of  performances 
will  endure  as  a  most  interesting  memory  to 
all  who  witnessed  them,  and  as  a  monument 
of  what  has  been  accomplished  at  Stratford- 
upon-Avon,  in  a  cause  which  had  previously 
been  attempted  only  in  Germany. 

If  the  Memorial  Theatre  had  done  nothing 
else  in  its  history  but  provide  this  fascinating 
experience,  it  would  be  more  than  justified  of 
all  its  critics.  An  instrument  of  national  educa- 
tion of  the  finest  value  would  be  supplied  by 
the  more  frequent  performance  of  these  plays, 
especially  if  given,  as  at  Stratford,  in  their 
chronological  sequence. 

But  even  the  most  ardent  of  Stratford's  pil- 
grims lives  not  by  chronicle-plays  alone,  and 
amid  all  the  recondite  labour  of  restoring  to 
the  stage  such  all  too  long  neglected  work,  the 
more  generally  popular  of  Shakespeare's  plays 
have  still  yearly  held  their  own.  The  Prince 
of  Denmark  has  tardily  avenged  his  father's 
murder,  not  only  within  the  wonted  limits  of 
the  modern  stage,  but  in  the  larger  sphere  of 
character  and  motive  supplied  by  the  perform- 
ance of  the  entire  text  of  the  play,  with  whole 
speeches  and  scenes  long  omitted  from  accepted 
"  acting  versions."  Verona's  star-crossed  lovers 

22 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

have  plighted  their  tragic  troth,  Othello  has 
loved  the  gentle  Desdemona  "  not  wisely  but 
too  well,"  Macbeth  has  murdered  sleep,  and 
fond  King  Lear  has  made  division  of  his 
kingdom. 

Shylock  has  been  baffled  of  his  bond  by  the 
Portia  come  to  judgment,  Sir  Toby  Belch  and 
his  fellow-roysterers  have  fooled  Malvolio  in 
the  Illyrian  garden,  Beatrice  and  Benedick 
have  made  a  match  of  their  two  mad  wits, 
Petruchio  and  his  Katharine  have  stormed 
their  way  to  happy  wedlock.  Rosalind  and  her 
fellows  have  met  to  "  fleet  the  time  carelessly, 
as  they  did  in  the  golden  world,"  here  upon  the 
confines  of  the  very  Forest  of  Arden  of  which 
Shakespeare  wrote,  while  the  foresters  have 
borne  on  to  the  stage  a  deer  from  the  same 
Charlecote  Park  wherein  tradition  says  the  poet 
went  a-deer-stealing — "  Shakespeare,  poacher, 
or  whatever  else,"  as  Carlyle  has  it,  "our 
supreme  modern  European  man." 

Other  local  associations  are  not  far  to  seek 
in  the  plays  which  mention  actual  places  in  the 
very  course  of  their  events,  but  even  when  the 
poet  lets  his  fancy  roam  and  takes  the  world 
for  his  stage,  the  colour  of  the  Warwickshire 
countryside  is  never  missing  long.  Illyria, 
Bohemia,  Messina,  Tuscany — all  in  turn,  in 

23 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

some  of  their  poet's  most  lovable  moments, 
become  transmuted  into  simple  Warwickshire, 
so  that  his  own  stage  directions  for  one  of 
his  plays  might  be  reversed  and  his  native 
countryside  be  accounted  for,  once  and  for 
all,  as  to  be  found  "  dispersedly  in  various 
countries." 

His  "Wood  near  Athens"  slopes  over  to- 
wards the  bank  of  the  soft-flowing  Avon,  and 
Nick  Bottom  and  his  fellow  "  rude  mechanicals  " 
are  true-born  Warwickshire  yokels,  although 
they  "  work  for  bread  upon  Athenian  stalls." 
Titania's  "nine  men's  morris"  recalls  the  fore- 
bears of  the  very  dancers  who  revive  their  old- 
world  measure  at  present-day  Festivals,  and 
Oberon  and  Titania  have  planted  their  Grecian 
forest  with  the  same  wild-flowers  which  to-day 
are  strewn  in  the  church  where — 

"  Kings  for  such  a  tomb  should  wish  to  die." 

And  who  more  Midland  in  his  rusticity  than 
the  "rural  fellow"  who  bears  unto  the  grim 
Egyptian  monument  "  the  pretty  worm  of 
Nilus  "  to  bring  liberty  to  Cleopatra  ? 

Hamlet  abandons  his  journey  towards  Eng- 
land only  to  find  a  typical  Warwickshire  peasant 
digging  the  grave  for  Ophelia,  and  the  stream 
in  which — 

24 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

"  Her  weedy  trophies  and  herself 
Fell  in  the  weeping  brook," 

flows  even  nearer  Stratford  than  the  water  in 
which  a  maid  of  Clopton  met  her  death,  and 
suggested  to  the  poet,  says  tradition,  the  manner 
of  Ophelia's  pitiful  end.  Both  King  Lear  and 
Ophelia  in  their  madness  toy  with  the  same 
old-fashioned  Warwickshire  flowers  as  Perdita 
in  her  simple  joy. 

Even  if  this  process  of  identification  be  "  to 
consider  too  curiously,"  there  is  still  no  escaping 
from  the  charm  of  the  conditions  of  playgoing 
amid  the  green  meadows  and  old-world  build- 
ings associated  with  the  life  of  Stratford's 
dramatist.  In  a  delightful  article  on  the  sub- 
ject which  first  appeared  in  The  Speaker, 
and  has  since  been  reprinted  in  his  volume 
of  essays  entitled  "  Ideas  of  Good  and  Evil," 
Mr.  W.  B.  Yeats  says  : — 

"  I  have  been  hearing  Shakespeare,  as  the 
traveller  in  '  News  from  Nowhere '  might  have 
heard  him,  had  he  not  been  hurried  back  into 
our  noisy  time.  One  passes  through  quiet 
streets,  where  gabled  and  red-tiled  houses  re- 
member the  Middle  Age,  to  a  theatre  that 
has  been  made  not  to  make  money,  but  for 
the  pleasure  of  making  it,  like  the  market 
houses  that  set  the  traveller  chuckling  ;  nor 

25 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

does  one  find  it  among  hurrying  cabs  and 
ringing  pavements,  but  in  a  green  garden  by 
a  river  side.  Inside  I  have  to  be  content  for 
a  while  with  a  chair,  for  I  am  unexpected, 
and  there  is  not  an  empty  seat  but  this  ;  and 
yet  there  is  no  one  who  has  come  merely 
because  one  must  go  somewhere  after  dinner. 
All  day,  too,  one  does  not  hear  or  see  an  in- 
congruous or  noisy  thing,  but  spends  the  hours 
reading  the  plays,  and  the  wise  and  foolish  things 
men  have  said  of  them,  in  the  library  of  the 
theatre,  with  its  oak-panelled  walls  and  leaded 
windows  of  tinted  glass ;  or  one  rows  by 
reedy  banks  and  by  old  farmhouses,  and  by 
old  churches  among  great  trees.  It  is  certainly 
one's  fault  if  one  opens  a  newspaper,  for  Mr. 
Benson  gives  one  a  new  play  every  night, 
and  one  need  talk  of  nothing  but  the  play  in 
the  inn-parlour,  under  the  oak  beams  blackened 
by  time  and  showing  the  mark  of  the  adze  that 
shaped  them.  I  have  seen  this  week  '  King 
xjohn,'  '  Richard  II.,'  the  second  part  of 
1  Henry  IV.,'  *  Henry  V.,'  and  the  second 
part  of  *  Henry  VI.,'  and  '  Richard  III.' 
played  in  their  right  order,  with  all  the  links 
that  bind  play  to  play  unbroken ;  and  partly 
because  of  a  spirit  in  the  place,  and  partly 
because  of  the  way  play  supports  play,  the 

26 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

theatre  has  moved  me  as  it  has  never  done 
before.  That  strange  procession  of  kings  and 
queens,  of  warring  nobles,  of  insurgent  crowds, 
of  courtiers,  and  of  people  of  the  gutter  has 
been  to  me  almost  too  visible,  too  audible, 
too  full  of  an  unearthly  energy.  I  have  felt 
as  I  have  sometimes  felt  on  grey  days  on 
the  Galway  shore,  when  a  faint  mist  has 
hung  over  the  grey  sea  and  the  grey  stones, 
as  if  the  world  might  suddenly  vanish  and 
leave  nothing  behind,  not  even  a  little  dust 
under  one's  feet.  The  people  my  mind's 
eye  has  seen  have  too  much  of  the  extrava- 
gance of  dreams,  like  all  the  inventions  of 
art  before  our  crowded  life  had  brought 
moderation  and  compromise,  to  seem  more 
than  a  dream,  and  yet  all  else  has  grown  dim 
before  them. 


"The  easiness  of  travel,  which  is  always 
growing,  began  by  emptying  the  country,  but 
it  may  end  by  filling  it ;  for  adventures  like 
this  of  Stratford-on-Avon  show  that  people  are 
ready  to  journey  from  all  parts  of  England 
and  Scotland  and  Ireland,  and  even  from 
America,  to  live  with  their  favourite  art  as 
shut  away  from  the  world  as  though  they  were 

27 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

'in  retreat,'  as  Catholics  say.  Nobody  but 
an  impressionist  painter,  who  hides  it  in  light 
and  mist,  even  pretends  to  love  a  street  for 
its  own  sake ;  and  could  we  meet  our  friends 
and  hear  music  and  poetry  in  the  country, 
none  of  us  that  are  not  captive  would  ever 
leave  the  thrushes."  * 

Writing  on  the  same  subject,  another  visitor 
to  Stratford's  Festival,  Mr.  C.  E.  Montague, 
says  in  his  brilliant  volume  of  "  Dramatic 
Values,"  reprinted  from  his  contributions  to 
The  Manchester  Guardian : — 

"  A  thing  not  easily  to  be  spoilt  for  you  in 
Stratford  is  the  way  you  go  to  the  theatre 
there,  at  any  rate  on  a  fine  evening  in  late 
April,  in  a  year  when  the  spring  has  not  been 
soured  by  an  ill-placed  frost.  .  .  .  You  go  into 
it  from  a  garden  by  a  river,  alive  just  now  with 
little  jocund  noises ;  there  is  that  sound  which 
to  hear  is  like  drinking  cool  water  in  summer 
— the  dip  of  oars  and  the  little  tinkle  of  laughter 
from  people  coming  home  in  boats  at  twilight ; 
beyond  the  stream  some  lambs  are  leaping 
about  in  a  meadow  of  juicy  grass,  or  posting 
back  to  their  mothers  in  silent  thirst.  Wherever 
you  look,  behold  !  it  is  very  good.  Behind 

1  "  Ideas  of  Good  and  Evil,"  by  W.  B.  Yeats.     T.  Fisher 
Unwin  and  A.  H.  Bullen. 

28 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

you  the  little  ordered  country  town  is  in  the 
oddly  gay  mixed  light  of  lamps  early  lit  and 
of  the  lengthening  daylight ;  in  front,  beyond 
the  lambs,  the  fields  rise  and  fall  softly  till 
they  go  out  of  sight,  the  quintessence  of  the 
contained  and  friendly  English  Midland  land- 
scape. When  these  things  have  possessed 
your  souls  with  content,  you  go  through  a 
door  and  see,  it  may  be,  *  As  You  Like  It/ 
acted  by  artists  on  whom  they  are  working 
too — at  any  rate,  you  think  so.  The  audience, 
on  the  whole,  is  picked  and  fit,  for  there  is 
no  mere  fashion  of  coming  here,  to  bring  many 
quite  vacuous  spectators  ;  no  one  comes  who 
does  not  care  for  plays  or  acting ;  people  laugh 
at  the  right  place  in  comedy  ;  the  space  be- 
tween them  and  the  actors  is  not  the  non- 
conductor of  emotion  that  it  often  seems  to 
be  elsewhere ;  it  quivers  with  communicative 
quickness ;  you  do  not  have  a  sense  that  artist's 
intention  and  public's  perception  are  fumbling 
for  each  other  in  a  dark  room  ;  you  feel  the 
stir  of  a  common  intellectual  excitement  chang- 
ing all  the  hard  disparate  atoms  in  the  audi- 
torium into  one  quickened  brain  whose  joint 
apprehension  is  not,  as  in  most  theatres,  the 
apprehension  of  the  dullest,  but  that  of  the 
eager  and  clear,  the  ones  with  speculation  in 

29 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

their   eyes.      What   dead   silence   receives,  in 
most  theatres,  Le  Beau's  discreet  civility— 

1  Hereafter,  in  a  better  world  than  this, 
I  shall  desire  more  love  and  knowledge  of  you  ! ' 

"It  is  not,  or  was  not,  so  at  Stratford  ;  you 
feel  a  whole  audience  to  be  delightedly  tasting- 
flavours  and  valuing  qualities  in  what  they 
hear. 

"  After  an  act  you  step  out  into  the  more  than 
pastoral  quietude  of  a  country  town  settling  to 
rest  after  the  day.  The  growth  of  stillness, 
since  you  went  in,  is  measured  for  you  by  the 
new  clearness  of  the  little  distant  sounds, 
voices  at  far  off  cottage  doors,  or  the  shouts 
of  a  few  children  late  at  their  play  in  the 
meadows.  When  the  play  ends,  outside  there 
is  white  river  mist  and  dead  silence.  You  all 
go  to  bed  like  one  household.  Half  an  hour 
after  the  Oresteia  was  done  there  was  not  a 
sound  in  the  High  Street ;  at  midnight  the 
footsteps  of  two  belated  actors  and  their  voices 
at  the  corner  as  they  said  good-night  rang  like 
a  sound  in  midnight  Oxford." 

The  record  of  the  Memorial  Theatre  has 
hitherto  been  primarily  a  Shakespearean  one, 
but  other  interesting  revivals  and  productions 

1  "  Dramatic  Values,"  by  C.  E.  Montague.     Methuen  &  Co. 
30 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

have  occasionally  figured  in  the  programme. 
Possibly  those  who  are  pilgrims  to  Stratford 
for  the  sole  purpose  of  this  series  of  perform- 
ances would  prefer  to  remain  undisturbed  in 
their  Shakespearean  mood.  But  then  there 
is  the  very  considerable  local  element  of  the 
audiences  to  be  considered,  the  element  drawn 
not  only  from  the  town  of  Stratford  itself,  but 
from  a  large  surrounding  district,  and  the  late 
Mr.  Charles  Flower  and  the  other  founders  of 
the  Memorial  Theatre  had  it  ever  before  them 
as  an  ideal  to  endow  a  home  primarily  for 
Shakespearean  celebrations,  but  incidentally 
also  for  a  good  deal  else  that  is  worthiest  of 
repetition  in  our  dramatic  literature,  whether 
ancient  or  modern.  They  intended,  indeed,  to 
concede,  and  even  to  approve  the  fact  that 
there  have  been  dramatists  both  before  and 
after  Shakespeare,  just  as  "  there  were  heroes 
before  Agamemnon,"  though  longo  interval lo. 

The  idea  has  seemed  more  suitable  to  the 
occasion  since  the  Festival's  span  was  extended 
to  three  weeks,  and  some  of  the  non-Shakes- 
pearean fare  presented  has  proved  remarkably 
interesting.  The  difference  between  the  ideal 
of  tragedy  held  by  the  Greek  dramatists  and 
that  of  Shakespeare  has  been  illustrated  by 
a  very  impressive  production  of  the  Orestean 

31 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

trilogy  of  yEschylus.  Typical  work  of  Shakes- 
peare's predecessors  on  the  English  stage  has 
been  seen  in  four  of  the  Chester  "  Mystery" 
plays,  and  in  Christopher  Marlowe's  "  Ed- 
ward II.,"  and  his  contemporaries  have  been 
represented  by  Ben  Jonson's  "  Every  Man  in 
His  Humour."  Of  later  dramatists  Wycherley 
(adapted  by  Garrick),  Sheridan,  Goldsmith, 
Tom  Taylor,  Lord  Lytton,  Mr.  Stephen 
Phillips,  and  Mr.  G.  E.  Morrison  and  Mr. 
R.  P.  Stewart,  with  their  interesting  play 
"  Don  Quixote/'  presenting  the  hero  of  Shake- 
speare's great  Spanish  contemporary,  Cervantes, 
had  divided  the  honours  of  these  non-Shake- 
spearean performances,  with  the  addition  of 
certain  one-act  plays,  down  to  last  year.  Then 
the  innovation  of  a  prize  of  ^300  offered  by 
one  of  the  governors  of  the  Memorial  Theatre 
resulted  in  the  selection,  out  of  315  plays 
submitted,  of  "  The  Piper,"  a  new  version  of 
the  Pied  Piper  of  Hamelin's  story  by  an 
American  poet,  Josephine  Preston  Peabody 
(Mrs.  Lionel  Marks). 

It  would  almost  seem  that  in  his  elaborate 
classification  of  the  drama,  Polonius  had  the 
Festival  programme  generally  in  view,  for 
surely  no  other  repertoire  company  has  ever 
presented  as  varied  a  bill  as  that  which  forms 

32 


Photo  by  L.  Caswall  Smith 

MRS.  F.  R.  BENSON   AS  CONSTANCE 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

the  annual  three  weeks'  traffic  of  the  Memorial 
stage.  But,  thanks  to  the  fine  spirit  of  co- 
operation in  which  many  accomplished  players 
share  the  arduous  work  of  rehearsal  and  per- 
formance, it  is  possible  to  adopt  the  descrip- 
tion given  by  Polonius  himself  in  answer  to 
Hamlet's  question,  "  What  players  are  they  ? " 
and  to  say  :— 

"  The  best  actors  in  the  world,  either  for 
tragedy,  comedy,  history,  pastoral,  pastoral- 
comical,  historical-pastoral,  tragical-historical, 
tragical-comical-historical-pastoral,  scene  indi- 
vidable,  or  poem  unlimited  :  Seneca  cannot  be 
too  heavy  nor  Plautus  too  light." 

For  among  the  players  who  have  taken  part 
in  the  Memorial  Theatre  performances  may  be 
named  the  following  : — 

Mr.  Henry  Ainley.  Mr.  W.  H.  Calvert. 

Mr.  Oscar  Asche.  Mr.  Louis  Calvert. 

Mr.  Lewis  Ball.  Mr.  James  Carew. 

Mr.  Shiel  Barry.  Mr.  Murray  Carrington. 

Mr.  F.  R.  Benson.  Mr.  O.  B.  Clarence. 

Mr.  Charles  Bibby.  Mr.  Hannam  Clark. 

Mr.  Acton  Bond.  Mr.  John  Coleman. 

Mr.  Arthur  Bourchier.  Mr.  Edward  Compton. 

Mr.  Graham  Browne.  Mr.  Thalberg  Corbett. 

Mr.  Alfred  Brydone.  Mr.  W.  Creswick. 

Mr.  George  Buchanan.  Mr.  Clarence  Derwent. 

Mr.  H.  Caine.  Mr.  John  Drew. 

33  c 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 


Mr.  James  B.  Pagan. 
Mr.  George  Fitzgerald. 
Mr.  Elliot  Galer. 
Mr.  A.  E.  George. 
Mr.  William  Gilbert. 
Mr.  Ben  Greet. 
Mr.  Arthur  Grenville. 
Mr.  Herbert  Grimwood. 
Mr.  Walter  Hampden. 
Mr.  Martin  Harvey. 
Mr.  James  Hearn. 
Mr.  Henry  Herbert. 
Mr.  H.  R.  Hignett. 
Mr.  H.  Halliwell  Hobbes. 
Mr.  H.  B.  Irving. 
Mr.  H.  Jarman. 
Mr.  Moffat  Johnston. 
Mr.  Cyril  Keightley. 
Mr.  C.  Rann  Kennedy. 
Mr.  Matheson  Lang. 
Mr.  James  Lewis. 
Mr.  Robert  Loraine. 
Mr.  F.  H.  Macklin. 
Mr.  Eric  Maxon. 
Mr.  H.  O.  Nicholson. 
Mr.  B.  Iden  Payne. 

Miss  Elinor  Aickin. 
Miss  Alleyn. 
Miss  Sara  Allgood. 
Miss  Mary  Anderson. 
Miss  Dorothea  Baird. 
Miss  Virginia  Bateman 
(Mrs.  Edward  Compton). 


Mr.  Stephen  Phillips. 

Mr.  B.  A.  Pittar. 

Mr.  Nigel  Playfair. 

Mr.  William  Poel. 

Mr.  Charles  Quartermaine. 

Mr.  Guy  Rathbone. 

Mr.  J.  Forbes-Robertson. 

Mr.  Jerrold  Robertshaw. 

Mr.  Ian  Robertson, 

Mr.  Frank  Rodney. 

Mr,  Stratton  Rodney. 

Mr.  Herbert  Ross. 

Mr.  G.  Kay  Souper. 

Mr.  Otho  Stuart. 

Mr.  Barry  Sullivan. 

Mr.  E.  Lyall  Swete. 

Mr.  Osmond  Tearle. 

Sir  Herbert  Tree. 

Mr.  Hermann  Vezin. 

Mr.  Lewis  Waller. 

Mr.  Edward  Warburton. 

Mr.  George  Weir. 

Mr.  Arthur  Whitby. 

Mr.  Harcourt  Williams. 

Mr.  J.  P.  Wilson. 

Mr.  F.  G.  Worlock. 

Miss  Jessie  Bateman. 

Mrs.  F.  R.  Benson. 

Madame  Sarah  Bernhardt. 

Mrs.  Billington. 

Miss  Lilian  Braithwaite. 

Miss  Tita  Brand. 

Miss  Lily  Bray  ton. 

34 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 


Madame  Marie  Brema. 
Miss  Hutin  Britton. 
Miss  Eleanor  Calhoun. 
Mrs.  Charles  Calvert. 
Miss  Elsie  Chester. 
Miss  Constance  Collier. 
Miss  Alice  Denvil. 
Miss  Marion  Denvil. 
Miss  N.  de  Silva. 
Miss  Frances  Dillon. 
Miss  Gertrude  Eliot. 
Miss  Beryl  Faber. 
Miss  Violet  Farebrother. 
Miss  Helen  Faucit  (Lady 

Martin). 

Miss  Ada  Ferrar. 
Miss  Beatrice  Ferrar. 
Miss  Louie  Freear 
Miss  Margaret  Halstan. 
Miss  Leah  Hanman. 
Miss  Helen  Haye. 
Miss  Kate  Hodson. 
Miss  Laura  Johnson. 
Miss  Mary  Kingsley. 


Miss  Beatrice  Lamb. 
Miss  Nora  Lancaster. 
Miss  Auriol  Lee. 
Miss  Kitty  Loftus. 
Miss  Marie  Lohr. 
Miss  Madge  Mclntosh. 
Miss  Wynne  Matthison. 
Miss  Jean  Mackinley. 
Miss  Evelyn  Millard. 
Miss  Mabel  Moore. 
Madame  Agnes  Nicholls. 
Miss  Olive  Noble. 
Miss  Mona  K.  Oram. 
Miss  Nancy  Price. 
Miss  Ada  Rehan. 
Miss  Constance  Robertson. 
Miss  Saumarez. 
Miss  Gertrude  Scott. 
Miss  Ellen  Terry. 
Miss  Marion  Terry. 
Miss  Violet  Vanbrugh. 
Miss  Wallis. 
Miss  Genevieve  Ward. 
Miss  Frances  Wetherall. 


Here,  one  may  well  feel  confident,  with 
Polonius,  is  an  artistic  fellowship  indeed  equal 
to  every  call.  "  Seneca  cannot  be  too  heavy, 
nor  Plautus  too  light,"  for  the  players  at  any 
rate,  and  as  for  the  audiences — but  that  is 
another  story !  Certainly  one  may  assume  that  at 
Stratford,  at  any  rate,  Shakespeare's  own  work 

35 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

more  than  holds  its  own  against  the  Latin 
author  of  whom  another  Elizabethan  dramatist 
said,  "  What  are  twelve  kicks  to  a  man  who 
can  read  Seneca  ?  "  Plautus,  curiously  enough, 
is  from  time  to  time  represented  on  Stratford's 
stage  indirectly,  but  only  to  the  extent  to  which 
Shakespeare  borrowed  from  him  in  "  The 
Comedy  of  Errors." 

For  this  golden  pomp  of  "  Tragedy,  Comedy, 
History,  Pastoral "  from  Shakespeare's  work 
which  year  by  year  finds  "  a  local  habitation  " 
on  the  Festival  stage,  a  yearly  larger  and  more 
cosmopolitan  series  of  audiences  has  gathered. 
"I  am  always  happy  to  meet  persons  who 
perceive  the  transcendent  superiority  of  Shake- 
speare over  all  other  writers/'  said  Emerson  ; 
and  the  same  responsive  pleasure  seems  largely 
to  animate  the  throng  of  visitors  to  Stratford's 
Festival,  which  now  supplies  audiences  reaching 
a  total  some  fourteen  thousand  strong  in  the 
course  of  the  three  weeks'  celebration  at  the 
Memorial  Theatre. 

The  founders  of  the  Memorial  Theatre 
followed  the  ideal  of  Garrick  in  seeking  to 
establish  at  Stratford-upon-Avon  a  stage  that 
should  prove  not  merely  the  occasional  scene 
of  Shakespearean  commemoration,  but  also  a 
fitting  centre  for  the  study  of  dramatic  literature 

36 


THE    MEMORIAL   THEATRE 

and  the  practice  of  the  art  of  acting.  The  cir- 
cumstances of  modern  life  have  counted  against 
the  full  development  of  this  ideal.  The  number 
of  students  or  actors  who  can  spare  the  time  to 
make  a  lengthy  sojourn  in  a  place  where  they 
have  no  other  cause  for  residence  than  the  fre- 
quenting of  the  Memorial  Theatre  and  library, 
has  hitherto  been  limited.  Yet  the  name  of  the 
players  who  have  shared  in  the  high  endeavour 
of  Stratford's  undertaking  now  approaches 
legion,  and  the  weeks  of  their  performances 
in  each  year  are  growing  into  months.  And 
one  very  satisfactory  result  of  the  Festivals 
is  to  be  seen  in  the  constant  translating  of 
the  Memorial  productions  to  many  another 
stage.  Visitors  to  Stratford's  Festival  cannot 
but  feel  that  something  of  the  fitting  qualities 
of  place  and  occasion  has  contributed  to  the 
luminous  revival  of  many  of  the  plays  for 
which  all  acting  " traditions"  had  long  been 
lost,  and  are  accordingly  glad  that  the  work 
contributed  to  the  annual  Festival  is  often  re- 
peated in  London  and  other  centres  by  the 
players,  to  an  extent  which  may  be  considered 
to  give  to  the  Memorial  productions  a  value 
exceeding  the  scope  of  merely  local  commemo- 
ration. 

For  the  last  thing  that  your  serious  Festival- 
37 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

goer  desires  is  that  the  Memorial  Theatre 
should  remain,  in  all  the  fastness  of  its 
Warwickshire  riverside,  the  be-all  and  the 
end-all  of  Shakespearean  revival.  And  a  con- 
siderable part  of  the  ideal  which  inspired  its 
founders  is  being  carried  into  effect,  while  the 
artistic  impulse  given  to  the  actors'  work  sur- 
vives in  productions  borne  onward  through  the 
land,  to  "  give  the  world  assurance  "  of  Strat- 
ford's great  son — 

"  Shakespeare,  on  whose  forehead  climb 
The  crowns  o'  the  world :  O  eyes  sublime, 
With  tears  and  laughter  for  all  time  !  " 

— ELIZABETH  BARRETT  BROWNING. 


THE    NATURE   OF   DRAMA 

BY  REGINALD  R.  BUCKLEY 


THE  NATURE  OF  DRAMA 

IN  the  following  chapters  I  set  forth  the  main 
lines  of  a  personal  and  unreserved  faith  in 
Stratford  as  a  centre  of  Anglo-Celtic  Art,  the 
circumference  of  which  constantly  extends. 

My  words  have  the  peculiar  value  of  being 
the  confession  of  a  convert,  who  holds  no  sort 
of  official  connection  with  the  movement. 

Any  other  value  that  they  may  have  will  be 
enhanced  by  a  study  of  the  works  to  which 
reference  has  been  made  in  these  pages. 
Though,  frankly,  I  write  for  the  holiday-maker 
rather  than  for  the  student. 

So  curious  is  the  common  attitude  to  the 
theatre  that  it  is  worth  our  while  to  trace 
dramatic  origins,  and  to  mark  out  clearly  the 
reasons  for  a  more  human  and  hopeful  view  of 
the  drama  : — 

The  Drama  sprang  from  the  people  as  an  expression  of 
joy  in  community. 

Long  before  Shakespeare,  Folk  Art  existed  as  at  once 
a  pleasure  and  an  expression  of  racial  religion. 

41 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Shakespeare,  through  personal  genius  and  kinship  with 
the  spirit  of  his  day,  concentrated  within  himself  its  vigour 
and  tendencies. 

Shakespeare  is  the  standard-bearer  of  the  race  through 
the  ages. 

The  True  Theatre  is  a  Cathedral  of  Human  Joy. 

Wagner,  by  virtue  of  race-kinship,  stands  in  close  re- 
lationship with  our  work,  and,  unlike  Shakespeare,  himself 
imagined  a  Festival  Theatre  as  a  home  of  Indo-European 
Art.  Bayreuth  was  never  intended  as  a  Wagner  Theatre. 

If  the  Shakespeare  Memorial  Theatre  is  to  cover  the 
range  of  national  feeling,  music-drama  and  choral  singing 
cannot  be  ignored,  though  the  sectionising  of  different  art- 
forms  has  kept  them  apart  from  the  modern  theatre. 

If  Folk  Art  in  all  its  branches  reveals  the  Joy  of  Man- 
kind, our  contemporary  drama,  our  architecture,  and 
education  must  clear  a  way  through  the  tangled  forest  of 
civilisation,  giving  us  cities  and  villages  as  beautiful  as  the 
dreams  of  our  artists. 

Though  art  must  never  preach  or  become 
propagandist,  unless  it  be  the  revelation  of 
beauty  and  life  the  artist  is  reduced  to  impo- 
tence, and  life  itself  becomes  an  unfulfilled 
promise,  which  is  a  lie. 

NOTE. — Certain  passages  in  these  chapters  are  the  embodi- 
ment of  ideas  that  have  appeared  in  T.P.'s  Magazine,  the 
Worlds  Work,  and  T.PSs  Weekly -,  but  in  acknowledging  my  in- 
debtedness to  the  editors,  I  doubt  whether  they  could  identify 
them,  so  completely  has  the  material  been  recast.— R.  R.  B. 

42 


THE  BEGINNINGS  OF  FOLK-ART 

DRAMA  is  the  artistic  presentation  of  elemental 
things.  Like  human  birth  the  true  dramatic 
conception  must  spring  from  the  deep  and 
everlasting  desire  of  light  and  life,  the  ever- 
surging  resurrection  of  form  from  chaos. 

Living  in  a  sophisticated  period,  yet  buoyed 
up  with  the  hope  of  an  age  of  greater  beauty 
and  simplicity,  let  us  consider  for  a  moment  the 
origin  of  drama.  By  origin  I  do  not  mean 
merely  the  beginning  of  things  dramatic  in 
Britain,  which  led  up  to  our  chief  glory, 
Shakespeare,  and  our  widest  and  noblest 
period  of  personal  and  national  expansion,  but 
I  allude  to  the  first  gleamings  of  that  com- 
munal spirit  that  united  men  and  women  in 
their  mutual  concept  of  beauty,  and  in  the 
physical  expression  of  mutual  joy  and  shared 
emotion. 

We  know  not  where  it  first  sprang  to  the 
light  any  more  than  we  can  fix  by  surveyor's 

43 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

science  the  exact  place  where  man  first  beheld 
woman  with  conscious  love,  where  first  Cain 
smote  Abel  with  deliberate  hate,  becoming 
first  a  murderer  and  then,  beholding  his  mis- 
deeds, a  solitary  poet  aghast  at  the  part  that 
he  had  played. 

But  when  mankind  became  tribal  the  daily 
routine  of  .hunting,  of  fire  and  water,  of  behold- 
ing the  sun  as  a  god  and  the  stars  as  shining 
seraphim,  made  Life  itself  a  drama,  and  the 
visible  things  of  the  world  emblems  of  a 
natural  religion. 

But  when  life  became  complex,  when  no 
longer  simple  toil,  love,  and  hate  were  the 
end-all  of  existence,  when  death  no  more  fell 
like  a  dream,  and  the  inherent  waywardness 
of  man  led  him  towards  the  complicated  muddle 
that  we  call  civilisation,  he  had  to  invent  some- 
thing for  a  diversion :  to  call  to  his  bard  for 
a  song,  to  his  young  men  and  maidens  for 
a  dance.  Long  before  the  days  when  religion 
came  to  be  a  thing  apart  and  the  arts  a  luxury 
or  an  amusement,  in  days  comparatively  simple 
a  gap  had  appeared  between  daily  life  and 
the  dances  and  songs  of  tribal  religion  and 
enjoyment. 

But  the  point  that  must  be  made  plain  before 
any  conception  of  the  relationship  of  life  and 

44 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

art  can  be  attempted,  is  that  religious  song 
and  dance  were  the  first  signs  of  spiritual 
pleasure  among  those  early  peoples  whose 
daily  business  was  one  of  hunting  and  war, 
whose  emotions  were  roughly  love  and  hate. 
The  religion  of  these  folk  consisted  in  the 
ceremonial  worship  of  the  forces  of  nature  and 
the  powers  that  moved  their  own  passions. 

Their  life  itself  was  art,  because  it  was  true, 
and  truth  and  pleasure  are  the  bases  of  all  that 
is  noble  in  art  or  life. 

Lest  the  reader  weary  of  abstract  ideas  let 
him  join  with  me  in  this  search  for  the  true 
sources  of  drama. 

I  propose  first  to  describe  simply  the  origin 
of  drama  among  a  people  who  stood  midway 
between  barbarism  on  the  one  hand  and  what 
we  know  as  civilisation  on  the  other.  I  mean 
the  Greeks. 

Then  I  shall  ask  the  reader  to  follow,  in  a 
separate  chapter,  the  main  lines  of  the  dramatic 
development  that  led  to  Shakespeare. 

From  that  point  we  will  try  to  show  how  the 
art  of  Shakespeare  was  veritably  the  voice  of  a 
people,  and  how  through  rekindling  the  fires 
of  true  tribal  or  folk-art,  and  rallying  round  the 
self-conscious  plays  of  Shakespeare,  we  have 
the  drama  once  again  in  direct  touch  with 

45 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

the  hearty  and  joyous  impulses  of  life,  and 
need  no  more  be  thralls  to  the  superficial 
and  stupid  manifestations  of  a  denationalised 
spirit. 

A  counterfeit  presentation  of  life  will -hang 
upon  our  heels  for  all  time,  but  in  dealing  with 
the  possibilities  of  our  theatre  we  must  look 
deep  into  the  past  before  we  venture  to  step 
confidently  into  the  future. 

The  cult  of  Dionysos,  the  wine-god,  grew 
up  in  Diacria  among  farmers  and  herdsmen. 
This  is  very  significant  in  view  of  the  folk- 
revival  of  which  we  shall  speak  later.  And  in 
reading  Stuart-Glennie  on  the  more  modern 
folk-songs  and  customs  of  Greece,  I  find  that 
much  of  this  old  Dionysian  cult  has  become 
intertwined  with  Christianity.  But  the  associa- 
tion of  drama  with  joy  is  apparent  not  only  at 
the  beginnings  of  its  manifestation,  but  may 
be  traced  through  the  history  of  folk-lore, 
wherever,  as  in  the  case  in  question,  we  have 
a  more  or  less  connected  record.  During 
eleven  months  of  each  year,  throughout  the 
whole  of  Attica,  the  worship  of  Dionysos  took 
place  in  dance  and  song.  In  all  countries,  in 
all  civilisations,  dance  and  song  have  pre- 
ceded plays  and  musical  compositions.  What 
we  know  as  rhythm,  and  in  a  lesser  degree 

46 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

rhyme,  is  simply  an   imitation  of  the  primal 
rhythm. 

Some  say  that  this  primal  rhythm  was  the 
joy  of  man  in  the  dance. 

Among  the  Greeks  it  was  held  that  it  was 
an  imitation  of  the  rhythm  of  Nature  itself  as 
expressed  by  the  waves  of  the  sea.  At  the 
festivals  of  Dionysos,  especially  when  they 
consecrated  the  wine  in  autumn,  the  dances 
were  human  enough.  To  the  modern  mind 
they  would  appear  indelicate,  as  they  repre- 
sented in  ceremonial  movement  not  only  the 
harvest  and  the  vintage,  but  birth  and  death. 
Of  course  they  were  not  indecent,  but  the 
simplest  and  purest  forms  of  dramatic  art. 
Dionysos  was  surrounded  by  priests,  and  each 
year  the  wife  of  the  high  priest  was  wedded  to 
the  god,  a  ceremony  that  was  probably  the 
basis  of  one  of  our  own  folk-dances.  Also  he 
was  supposed  to  be  surrounded  by  satyrs  or 
goat -like  demons,  who  were  personated  at 
festival  time  by  the  rustics. 

The  reader  may  wonder  what  all  this  has  to 
do  with  Stratford-upon-Avon.  Let  me  warn 
him  that  this  book  is  devoted  to  the  explanation 
not  alone  of  the  Festival,  which  you  yourself 
can  describe  as  well  as  I,  but  to  a  thousand 
things  of  deep  interest.  These  may  at  first 

47 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

appear  difficult  and  disconnected,  and  I  cannot  do 
better  than  give  you  the  keynote  here  and  now. 

Stratford  is  a  town  in  which  old  and  new 
meet  in  Shakespeare.  Every  good  workman, 
or  wife,  or  artist  is  conscious  that  love  and 
labour  are  holy  and  happy  things.  We  want 
to  make  the  world  beautiful :  to  spread  ideas. 
Therefore  not  only  the  plays  of  Shakespeare 
but  every  form  of  beautiful  life  must  flourish 
here,  so  that  its  joyous  influence  may  spread. 
That  is  the  reason  that  we  have  set  no  narrow 
limits  to  the  subjects  of  this  discussion.  Be- 
ginning by  tracing  the  healthy  origin  of  outdoor 
arts,  a  wide  ground  must  be  covered,  and  many 
a  digression  pardoned.  What  is  true  of  the 
origin  of  dancing  is  true  equally  of  all  art. 
For  any  work  which  does  not  spring  direct 
from  human  experience,  as  a  spontaneous  ex- 
pression of  pain  or  pleasure,  is  bad.  It  may 
please  the  crowd  for  an  hour,  but  cannot  live 
in  the  hearts  of  men. 

If  we  go  back  to  the  beginnings  of  drama, 
many  a  guiding  idea  comes  to  us.  For  the 
early  dances  were  the  simple  expression  of  a 
simple  life. 

We  have  a  curious  side-light  upon  the  age- 
long use  of  this  dancing.  The  Homeric  period 
takes  us  very  far  back,  but  the  origin  of  the 

48 


Photo  by  Window  &  Grove 


MISS  ELLEN  TERRY  AS  PORTIA 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

Sun-dances  of  the  Red  Indians  may  be  traced 
further. 

In  Europe,  period  has  succeeded  period  more 
rapidly.  But  North  America  lay  fallow  as  it 
were  from  the  Stone  Age  to  the  beginning  of 
what  is  quite  modern  history.  The  tale  of 
Poi'a,  the  Star-boy,  son  of  the  Morning  Star 
and  of  an  Indian  maiden,  is  older  than  that  of 
Dionysos  and  the  Greek  goat-dancing.  And  it 
was  Poi'a,  according  to  tribal  lore,  who  taught 
the  Sun-dance  to  a  race  that  knew  the  folk- 
wisdom  and  had  kinship  with  Earth  and  Sun 
before  any  trace  can  be  found  of  the  same 
thing  in  Europe. 

This  does  not  mean  that  folk-dancing  began 
in  America,  because  probably  the  same  im- 
pulses were  at  work  all  over  the  world. 

But  it  proves  beyond  any  question  that  folk- 
dancing  was  the  first  communal  expression  of 
religious  feeling  and  human  joy  in  life. 

The  exact  process  by  which  dancing  became 
drama  can  be  traced  by  continuing  our  view 
of  the  Greeks.  It  is  true  equally  of  all  races, 
but  not  so  capable  of  clear  proof,  because  of 
the  essential  difference  between  the  Greek 
and  the  Red  Indian.  Both  of  them  differed 
from  the  Briton,  who  about  that  time  was 
painted  blue. 

49  D 


THE   SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

These  Dionysian  Festivals  of  the  Greeks 
were  many,  as  has  been  seen.  The  dances 
and  songs  gradually  took  upon  themselves  a 
dramatic  shape.  Like  the  old  English  singing 
games  they  were  pantomimic,  and  it  remained 
merely  to  introduce  semi-choruses  and  groups, 
and  thus  to  turn  them  into  dramas. 

Aristotle  tells  us,  in  his  "  Poetics,"  that 
Tragedy  and  Comedy  in  their  earlier  stages 
were  improvisations. 

The  first  definite  record  of  drama  may  be 
found  in  the  accounts  of  Thespis,  and  his  pro- 
duction of  plays  at  Lenaea,  under  the  patronage 
of  Peisistratus,  whose  interest  was  divided  be- 
tween town-planning  and  the  drama. 

For  it  was  about  that  time,  curiously  enough, 
that  the  organisation  of  cities  and  "  town- 
planning  "  took  a  recognisable  shape.  The 
marshalling  of  ideas  in  art  and  life  occur  as  a 
rule  simultaneously,  practical  and  ideal  acting 
and  reacting  upon  one  another. 

This  is  the  case  to-day.  For  the  first  time 
in  the  history  of  the  English  Stage  its  organisa- 
tion and  what  may  be  called  its  "  ideaography  " 
is  being  debated,  while  the  relation  of  architec- 
ture to  civic  life  is  another  phase  of  a  national 
awakening. 

These  facts  throw  a  new  light  upon  the 
50 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

Shakespearean  age,  for  they  help  to  reveal  the 
true  reason  why  Shakespeare  was  in  touch 
with  the  life  of  his  day,  while  we,  as  a  nation, 
are  only  beginning  to  be.  This  point  must  be 
left,  however,  for  the  Shakespearean  chapters. 
One  thing  must  be  noticed  here.  The  Eliza- 
bethan plays  contained  characters  by  the  dozen. 
But  not  until  Aeschylus  was  a  second  actor 
introduced  by  the  Greeks.  The  Thespian 
plays  were  rather  choral-dance-charades,  with 
leaders  or  spokesmen  for  the  chorus,  and  one 
actor,  who  was  as  it  were  the  narrator,  while 
the  chorus  provided  the  commentary. 

Sophocles,  who  was  to  the  Greeks  much  as 
was  Wagner  to  the  Germans,  allowed  himself 
three  actors.  Also  he  began  the  use  of  painted 
scenery  instead  of  the  ceremonial  background. 

The  nature  of  that  background  and  of  the 
stage  is  important,  as  throwing  light  upon 
Shakespeare. 

The  stage,  in  three  tiers  like  three  key- 
boards on  an  organ,  was  set  ceremonially,  an 
altar  at  the  back. 

The  Gods  walked  the  top  stage,  the  prota- 
gonists the  second,  while  the  chorus  moved 
upon  the  third.1 

1  This  is  doubted  by  Mr.  C.  E.  Montague  in  "  Dramatic 
Values,"  but  I  am  not  yet  convinced. — R,  R.  B. 

51 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Contrast  this  with  the  Elizabethan  theatre, 
which  may  or  may  not  have  been  covered,  but 
almost  certainly  was  flat,  abutting  into  the 
audience  like  a  prize-ring. 

The  Greeks  allowed  no  change  of  scene,  also 
insisting  upon  unity  of  time,  so  that  the  Greek 
drama  had  the  intensity  of  a  one-act  play. 

The  free  Elizabethan  spirit  permitted  an  un- 
limited variety  of  scenes,  which  were  portrayed 
by  word-painting  and  rhetoric. 

At  the  same  time  I  gravely  doubt  whether 
in  Shakespeare's  time  there  was  little  or  no 
scenery.  Historical  accuracy  it  had  not,  as  the 
Italian  plays  of  Shakespeare  prove.  But  like 
Sophocles,  Shakespeare  would  be  an  innovator 
and  demand  scenery,  though  his  requirements 
would  have  seemed  modest  to  Sir  Herbert 
Tree.  We  know  that  the  masques  and 
pageants  of  the  period  had  scenery. 

Another  point  which  Shakespeare  no  doubt 
had  in  common  with  the  Greek  dramatists  was 
the  use  of  music,  to  which  I  shall  refer  later. 

This  question  of  music  in  relation  to  drama 
is  not  understood  widely. 

Having  evolved  from  song  and  dance  the 
Greek  drama  continued  the  tradition.  The 
dance  rhythm  got  into  the  verse,  which, 
certainly  from  the  time  of  Aeschylus,  was 


i 


BEGINNINGS   OF    FOLK-ART 

accompanied   by  music,   to  which    the    chorus 
chanted  and  danced,  and  which  sustained  the 
voice  of  the  actors. 
Therefore  we  find  : — 

(a)  The   drama  began  as  ceremonial   song 
and  dance. 

(b)  Constituted  a  folk-festival    for  savages, 
and,  among  the  Greeks,  for  peasants. 

(c}  With  the  growth  of  the  city  became  a 
bond  of  civic  ideals  and  an  incarnation  of 
religious  beliefs. 

(d)  Its  form  was  that  of  music-drama,  in 
which  the  various  arts  were  allied. 

The  reason  for  this  digression  is  to  lead  up 
to  the  following  chapters,  in  which  I  shall  urge 
that— 

(a)  The  English  folk-drama  was  a  ruder 
form  of  art  closely  akin  to  the  Greek,  and 
arose  from  dances  and  songs  of  pagan  wor- 
ship. 

(b}  That,  being  allied  with  the  work  of  the 
Church,  it  became  Christian. 

(c}  That,  with  the  awakening  of  England, 
first  as  a  response  to  European  learning,  and 
then  owing  to  the  national  awakening  of  the 
country  under  Elizabeth,  the  bucolic  drama 
became  merged  in  the  wider  and  deeper  drama 
of  Shakespeare. 

53 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

(d)  That  folk-customs  and  plays  never  died 
out,  and  have  survived  to  this  day. 

(e)  That  in  them  we  have  the  forgotten  well- 
spring  of  English  music  and  drama. 

(/)  These,  being  in  their  essence  eminently 
Shakespearean,  are  worthy  of  revival  beside 
the  great  plays. 

(g)  And  that  the  living  principle  of  folk-art 
calls  for  modern  expression,  and  provides  us 
with  the  best  hope  of  a  contemporary  drama. 

It  is  a  good  thing  that  the  English  drama 
has  lain  fallow  for  so  long.  For  only  the  best 
has  survived,  and  we  have  witnessed  and  may 
observe  daily  the  failure  of  a  contemporary 
stage  that  aims  at  external  amusement.  The 
first  principle  of  all  drama  is  beauty,  and  unless 
a  play  be  a  picture,  a  joy  to  the  eye  and  ear, 
the  poet  cannot  venture  into  depths  of  meaning, 
of  philosophy  or  religion. 

And  that  is  the  reason  of  the  failure  of  con- 
temporary drama  as  an  art.  It  can  succeed 
commercially  only  through  frivolity  or  vulgarity. 
As  soon  as  it  becomes  deep  it  becomes  dull. 

Whereas  folk-art  always  is  profound  yet 
never  tires  the  hearer  or  the  beholder. 

In  those  days  Art  and  Life  were  in  some 
sort  of  harmony.  With  us  contemporary  drama 
has  no  place  in  our  life  and  thought.  In  fact 

54 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

very  few  people  have  any  ideas  upon  the  art 
of  living,  and  rely  upon  thoughtless  habits. 
Hence  what  we  call  "  boredom." 

Business  men  are  disorderly  and  erratic, 
because  commerce  is  competitive.  Men  can- 
not keep  their  heads  level  when  they  are 
striving  to  get  them  above  their  fellows.  The 
modern  market-place  is  like  Donnybrook  Fair. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  artist  is  orderly.  The 
painter,  the  musician,  and  the  poet  depend  upon 
harmony  in  colour,  in  tone,  and  in  idea.  Be- 
cause the  madness  of  Mammon  creates  chaos 
and  gloom,  one  needs  the  calm  and  the  sim- 
plicity of  great  art.  And  to  produce  good 
work  the  artist  must  be  erect,  not  scrambling 
on  all-fours  for  pennies.  If  we  get  out  of 
London  on  a  horse-'bus  we  find  ourselves  on 
solid  earth  beneath  the  open  sky.  Here  we 
may  begin  to  study  the  Greeks,  not  with 
a  guide-book  in  the  Parthenon,  but  "right 
here,"  as  the  Americans  say.  Our  Meteoro- 
logical Office  is  a  scientific  institution.  With 
the  Greeks  it  would  have  been  a  temple  to 
Athena.  They  worshipped  the  earth  as 
Demeter,  the  mother,  unchanging  in  her  love, 
and  Athena  as  goddess  of  air.  Athena  was 
a  young  woman,  for  the  weather  was  full  of 
feminine  wiles  and  whims,  even  beneath  the 

55 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

beams  of  Apollo,  who  was  the  sun-god.  Greek 
mythology  was  the  presentation  of  scientific 
fact  and  religious  belief  under  the  beautiful 
disguise  of  fairy  tales. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  Greek  ideals 
proceeded  from  the  Homeric  Age.  Then  all 
was  primal  and  elemental.  Man  was  a  hero  in 
close  contact  with  Neptune  the  sea-god,  and 
the  harpies  evil  spirits  of  the  air.  On  him 
the  beams  of  Apollo  shone,  and  the  breath  of 
Athena,  giving  him  strength  for  his  mighty 
labours.  Civilisation  did  not  with  them  de- 
stroy these  ideas  of  gods  and  men.  In  our 
own  case,  primitive  conceptions  have  become 
sophisticated.  We  have  ethics,  sociology,  art, 
dogma,  all  separated  and  controlled  by  com- 
mittees and  managers.  The  Greeks  built  up 
their  religion  from  Nature.  Science  added  to 
their  lore.  Poets  were  subconsciously  religious, 
because  their  poems  and  drajnas,  even  their 
dances,  were  conceived  as  illustrations  of  reli- 
gious truths.  The  priest  and  the  artist  hewed 
their  stone  from  the  same  elemental  quarries. 
In  modern  England  the  censorship  taboos  plays 
drawn  from  the  Scriptures.  Public  opinion  re- 
gards a  religious  novel  as  in  bad  taste.  There- 
fore the  expressions  of  priest,  poet,  and  politician 
are  addressed  to  different  publics,  and  harmony 

56 


BEGINNINGS   OF    FOLK-ART 

between  pleasure,  instruction,  and  statecraft  is 
unknown. 

In  Greece,  religion  and  life  itself  were  ex- 
pressed and  contained  in  the  drama.  In 
England,  in  pre-Shakespearean  days,  the 
Church  held  and  controlled  religious  concep- 
tion, and  the  English  stage  actually  grew 
from  the  Church,  as  will  be  seen  in  the  next 
chapter.  The  Church  and  Stage  were  in  close 
relation  before  Shakespeare's  day.  The  task 
of  his  immediate  predecessors,  and  of  himself, 
was  to  render  it  popular  and  national. 

And  that  is  why,  in  pleading  for  a  more 
consistent  attitude  to  folk-art,  I  am  compelled 
to  compare  the  Greek  with  the  British  way  of 
looking  at  things. 

Of  religion  as  we  know  it  the  Greeks  had 
no  idea.  Sin  was  a  meaningless  term  to  them. 
"Thou  shalt  not "  would  have  proved  an  in- 
centive, for  liberty  rather  than  the  restraint  of 
duty  lay  at  their  core  and  centre.  Their  view 
of  Pan  illustrated  this  point.  Music  to  the 
Greeks  was  a  culture.  It  included  music  in 
which  word  and  thought  lead,  while  Apollo's 
lyre  fills  them  with  the  sun's  own  light.  The 
works  of  Sophocles  and  the  dramatists  be- 
longed to  this  kind,  for  they  were  more  music- 
dramas  than  plays.  In  our  own  day  Elgar's 

57 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

"Gerontius"  is  typical.  Below  this  level  they 
reckoned  work  in  which  the  intellectual  or  the 
brutal  predominated,  in  Elgar's  "  Kingdom," 
and  in  brutal  works  of  genius  such  as  "  Pag- 
liacci."  Below  this  again,  they  set  merely 
sensuous  tone-painting,  played  mostly  on 
Doric  flutes.  These  were  the  pipes  of  Pan, 
whose  cult  has  begun  again  in  artistic  circles. 
The  root  of  Pan-worship  lies  in  the  belief  that 
the  gratification  of  the  senses  is  to  be  desired 
up  to  a  certain  limit.  It  is  a  wholesome  anti- 
dote to  asceticism,  though  the  Greeks  knew 
what  they  were  about  in  setting  Pan  beneath 
Demeter,  Athena,  and  Apollo — a  mere  flute- 
player  on  the  mountain  of  the  gods. 

The  British  idea  of  unity  is  an  Empire  on 
which  the  sun  never  sets.  The  Greek  ideal 
of  a  State  was  of  an  organic  city,  on  which  the 
sun  set  every  evening  with  perfect  regularity 
and  beauty.  Athens  was  about  the  size  of  a 
large  provincial  town,  and  Plato  thought  that 
its  population  of  one  hundred  thousand  rendered 
it  unwieldy.  Each  man  was  a  citizen,  taking  a 
direct  and  personal  part  in  the  corporate  life. 
The  very  word  ''politics"  implies  "city-craft/' 
That  is  to  say,  Athens  was  more  an  ideal 
limited  company,  with  directors,  shareholders, 
and  employees,  than  a  go  -  as  -  you  -  please 

58 


BEGINNINGS    OF    FOLK-ART 

conglomeration  of  units,  who  only  come  into 
contact  with  the  community  when  they  collide 
with  the  rate-collector  or  fall  into  the  clutches 
of  a  policeman.  The  Greeks  were  aristocrats  ; 
their  philosophers  intelligent  clubmen  rather 
than  "dons"  or  professors.  They  employed 
slaves  to  do  manual  work  and  for  productive 
labour,  not  that  they  might  sit  in  idleness,  but 
to  give  time  for  the  art  of  life. 

Another  reason  for  the  simple,  organic  health 
of  Athens  lay  in  the  opposite  direction.  The 
individual  had  a  standard  of  conduct.  Not 
only  was  there  a  clear  conception  of  the  ideal 
state  as  a  city,  but  the  Greeks  lived  up  to  their 
gods.  Apollo  sprang  from  imagination,  it  is 
true.  But  he  was  the  dream  of  a  perfect 
manhood,  at  once  an  idol  and  an  example. 
The  gymnasium  was  not  a  place  for  acrobatic 
display,  but  a  haunt  of  philosophers  and  their 
school  of  followers.  Nor  did  they  alone  ex- 
ercise their  tongues  and  their  wits,  but  also 
their  bodies.  If  we  can  imagine  an  amal- 
gam of,  say  Mr.  Frederic  Harrison  and  Mr. 
Sandow,  we  have  a  fair  picture  of  the  nobler 
Greek.  The  Olympic  games  were  held  in 
honour  of  Zeus,  the  all-father.  Sacrifice, 
prayer,  and  choral  hymn  took  their  places  in 
what  was  really  a  great  play.  Nude,  for  the 

59 


THE   SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

most  part,  the  athletes  were  symbols  of  god- 
like strength  and  striving.  The  prize  was 
not  a  purse,  but  a  laurel  crown.  The  victor's 
triumph  lay  not  in  the  raucous  applause  of  a 
rabble,  but  in  an  ode  by  one  whose  hand 
could  hurl  a  discus,  whose  heart  was  unafraid 
of  battle.  They  worshipped  the  Earth-mother 
in  the  strength  of  Athena,  and  in  their  nobility 
raised  up  man  as  Apollo  in  glory,  even  as  the 
evil  hearts  of  men  had  crucified  him  as  Christ. 

From  whatever  point  of  view  one  regarded 
the  Greeks,  their  ideas  and  their  religion  were 
mirrored  in  the  drama.  The  dramatist  then, 
and  to  some  extent  the  actor,  were  more  than 
the  priests  of  a  religion.  In  a  degree  they 
were  its  creators. 

What  then  is  the  God-bestowed  gift  that 
enables  a  man  to  reveal,  as  Sophocles  or 
Shakespeare,  the  soul  of  a  people? 

The  dramatist,  as  distinguished  from  the 
mere  playwright,  the  dramatic  pedestrian,  is 
an  artist  who  is  at  one  with  the  universe  and 
at  war  with  himself. 

A  deep  unrest,  coupled  with  a  broad  faith 
and  poetic  vision,  gave  Shakespeare  to  us, 
Dante  to  Italy,  Goethe  and  Wagner  to  Ger- 
many. 

The  dramatist  may  be  Christian  or  Pagan, 
60 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

but  to  be  a  maker  of  great  dramas  he  must 
deal  with  huge  ideas  and  great  simplicities, 
unhampered  by  partialities  or  prejudices.  His 
Tragedy  must  be  charged  with  that  strange 
tense  feeling  which  comes  to  us  on  waking 
from  some  terrible  dream.  His  Comedy  must 
have  the  comprehensive  wit  of  one  who  knows 
both  the  rose  and  her  thorns. 

The  quality  nearest  to  the  heart  of  Man  is 
Beauty,  and  it  is  from  the  hues  of  the  rainbow 
that  he  must  draw  his  colour,  from  the  sounds 
of  the  air  his  music,  from  the  green  garment 
of  the  earth  his  scene,  and  from  man  himself 
the  voice. 

The  dramatist  has  to  inspire  this  setting 
of  nature  with  his  human  message.  The  man 
to  whom  it  is  given  to  harness  sound  and 
scene  and  sense  has  surely  within  him  the 
power  to  draw  mankind  to  some  worthy 
place. 

The  means  employed  will  vary  according 
to  the  age  in  which  the  dramatist  lives  ;  and 
climate,  religion,  laws,  and  customs  each  will 
bear  a  part. 

The  technical  questions  of  music,  painting, 
and  the  other  arts  are  also  of  the  greatest  im- 
portance in  discussing  the  nature  of  drama. 
It  is  generally  admitted  nowadays  that  the 

61 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

drama  is  the  fittest  form,  and  the  most  fully 
evolved  means,  for  conveying  the  work  of  an 
artist  to  an  audience.  Theatrical  affairs  have 
not  of  late  years  maintained  the  dramatist  in 
the  position  of  honour  which  once  was  an  un- 
contested  right. 

Assuming  that  the  stage  is  a  great  frame 
in  which  can  be  set  up  a  picture,  actually  living 
and  moving,  and  granted  that  the  poetic  and 
musical  arts  can  sound  all  the  harmonies  of 
nature,  it  follows  that  he  who  uses  these  means 
to  their  full  compass  can  produce  an  effect  on 
the  emotions  and  senses  impossible  in  any 
other  way. 

The  creative  impulse  presupposes  a  view 
of  life,  and  since  impersonal  ideas  cannot  be 
rendered  visible  it  is  necessary  to  clothe  them 
in  flesh.  Just  as  the  life-value — physical  and 
spiritual — of  parents  is  clothed  in  the  fleshly 
body  of  the  child,  so  must  the  persons  of  a 
play  embody  the  ideas,  the  life-value  of  the 
dramatist.  His  means  will  vary  ;  his  outlook 
on  life,  the  preponderance  of  certain  gifts, 
natural  bias  towards  tragedy  or  comedy,  will 
shape  his  development  as  an  artist,  but  one 
thing  alone  will  mark  him  great. 

If  his  art  be  like  a  flame  that  burns  up 
the  smallness  of  man's  motives,  if  his  wit  can 

62 


BEGINNINGS   OF   FOLK-ART 

disperse  his  musty  opinions  and  make  him  a 
hearty,  emotional  human  it  is  well,  and  the 
means  are  not  important. 

Nevertheless  it  is  the  intention  of  this  book 
to  advocate  a  fuller  development  of  our  drama, 
especially  on  its  musical  and  folk  festival  side, 
and  to  explain  this  technical  evolution.  And 
in  using  the  term  "  musical"  let  it  be  said  at 
once  that  it  is  this  quality  in  Shakespeare  that 
makes  him  supreme.  He  does  not  use  words 
for  mere  argument,  but  as  Beethoven  uses 
sound.  And  it  is  because  all  the  arts  seem 
to  have  come  together  in  Shakespeare  that  he 
is  to  be  taken  as  the  very  centre  of  the  Merrie 
England  Movement. 

In  the  great  days  of  the  Greek  drama  its 
first  function  was  ceremonial  and  religious. 
It  was  the  ritual  of  a  human  religion,  whose 
tenets  were  emotional,  just  as  the  ritual  of  a 
modern  Church  is  the  ceremonial  of  divine  or 
revealed  belief. 

In  the  days  of  the  Shakespeare  Revival — 
the  Renaissance,  if  you  will — the  drama  was 
the  popular  festival,  the  holiday  feast  of  a  lusty 
nation,  clean  of  mind  and  limb. 

To-day  he  would  be  a  bold  man  who  dare 
attempt  to  define  in  a  phrase  the  relation  of 
our  drama  to  life. 

63 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

The  two  subjects  are  divided,  though  we 
strive  to  bring  them  together. 

The  whole  tendency  of  an  advanced  civilisa- 
tion is  overwork  and  specialism  on  the  one 
hand,  and  overplay  and  idleness  on  the  other. 

In  Germany  Bayreuth  keeps  alive  a  national 
spirit,  centring  around  Wagner. 

Oberammergau  holds  the  Festival  of  the 
Passion.  Festivals  of  a  purely  musical  kind 
are  held  in  cathedral  cities  and  great  manu- 
facturing centres.  But  nowhere  have  all  these 
things  come  together.  The  man  of  leisure 
can  travel  and  obtain  them  for  himself. 

But  they  have  never  been  brought  together 
in  one  place.  Their  value  depends  upon  three 
qualities. 

They  give  pleasure,  and  a  dramatic  festival 
combines  the  advantages  of  a  country  holiday 
with  the  enjoyment  of  the  theatre. 

All  great  art  is  national  and  religious  in 
origin,  therefore  a  bond  between  men  of  the 
same  blood. 

The  laughter  and  pity  of  the  human  soul  are 
universal  and  cosmic,  therefore  common  ground 
for  men  and  women  of  all  creeds  or  races. 

Everything  at  Stratford  is  English  to  the 
core,  but  not  insular.  It  appeals  to  the  Anglo- 
Celt,  in  fact  to  the  whole  Aryan  race. 

64 


Photo  by  IV.  &•  D.  Doivney 

SIR  HERBERT  BEERBOHM  TREE  AS  HAMLET 


BEGINNINGS   OF    FOLK-ART 

Beginning  from  Shakespeare  the  scope  of 
the  Festival  has  extended,  and  it  is  the  pur- 
pose of  this  book  to  show  that  the  drama  is 
but  a  focussing  of  the  soul  upon  interesting 
things.  And  the  more  bound  up  with  the 
varied  interests  of  life  the  more  we  need  a 
common  expression  of  our  national  spirit  in 
Festival  and  Song.  And  if  in  this  book  we 
go  beyond  the  intentions  or  scope  of  the 
Governors1  wishes,  let  it  not  be  imputed  to 
us  for  evil. 

This  book  is  the  expression  of  that  non- 
political  but  progressive  spirit  that  is  giving 
the  country  new  ideas  in  art  and  life.  And 
all  these  new  ideas  are  as  old  as  the  hills. 
Therein  lies  the  need  for  drama.  In  the 
works  of  the  great  sages  the  universal  wisdom 
and  inspiration  of  the  people  lie  sleeping. 
When  you  are  downtrodden  and  oppressed  a 
world's  pity  is  yours,  and  your  heavy  hours 
may  be  lightened  by  laughter.  Our  pride  and 
peculiarities  receive  the  lash  of  comedy,  and 
our  brotherhood  with  all  men  is  made  plain 
in  folk-plays  and  the  song  and  dance  of  the 
folk. 


65  E 


II 

THE  ENGLISH  DRAMA  BEFORE  SHAKESPEARE 

WE  have  seen  how  primitive  song  and  dance 
revealed  primal  and  elemental  feeling,  and 
how  among  the  Greeks  these  things  developed 
into  a  religious  art  expressive  of  the  beliefs 
and  ideas  of  the  people.  And  in  Greek  folk- 
song to  this  day  one  may  trace  the  inter- 
weaving of  Hellenic  and  Christian  conceptions. 
In  these  examples  of  peasant  art,  which  are 
moreover  the  groundwork  of  modern  literature 
in  Athens,  the  words  Olympos  and  Bethlehem 
appear  in  close  proximity. 

The  connection  is  not  so  clearly  defined  in 
our  own  literature,  but  the  developments  are 
quite  as  interesting. 

It  is  wrong  to  suppose  that  the  Elizabethan 
age  produced  Shakespeare.  However  lusty, 
brave,  and  imaginative  a  period  may  be,  genius 
is  individual. 

Had  Shakespeare  lived  at  the  time  of 
Boadicea,  he  would  have  been  a  chanting 
bard  leading  armies,  and  calls  to  "  Lay  on/' 

66 


DRAMA    BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

or  "  To  be  or  not  to  be  ?  "  would  have  sounded 
on  the  field  and  at  the  war  council. 

Had  he  been  contemporary  with  Euripides, 
Sophocles,  and  Aeschylus,  "Macbeth"  would 
have  been  a  one-act  play,  with  no  change  of 
scene,  and  it  would  have  been  filled  with 
references  to  many  gods.  As  it  is,  Banquo's 
ghost,  the  "  trees  of  Birnam  wood/'  and  the 
witches,  are  far  from  Greek  in  conception. 
Witches  and  ghosts  are  English  to  the  tips 
of  their  broomsticks  and  the  depths  of  their 
shadows.  Walking  trees  would  have  been 
unthinkable  in  so  orderly  and  philosophic  a 
place  as  Athens. 

Once  indicate  the  nature  of  the  pre-Shake- 
speare  drama,  and  we  have  the  key  to  the 
whole  situation. 

The  English  drama  came  into  being  through 
the  Church.  Among  savages  such  an  institu- 
tion did  not  exist,  while  in  Athens  it  was 
identical  with  the  theatre.  The  temples  of 
the  gods  were  for  sacrifice  :  the  theatre  for 
dramatic  rites  and  worship. 

In  mediaeval  England  the  Mass  stood  to 
the  people  as  an  expression  of  divine  things. 
But,  being  in  Latin,  the  religious  rites  required 
popular  interpretation  and  found  it  in  the  play. 
When  Bibles  were  unknown,  and  later  when 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

they  were  scarce,  the  clergy  became  actors, 
the  elder  taking  the  men's  parts  and  young 
men  the  women's.  And  it  is  interesting  to 
note  that  the  drama  of  Japan  had  a  similar 
origin  and  nature,  and  that  women  likewise 
were  at  that  time  debarred  from  dramatic 
work.  These  biblical  plays  had  their  origin 
in  very  remote  ages.  Shortly  after  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  temple  at  Jerusalem  the  absence 
of  the  usual  worship  was  met  with  a  play  in 
Greek.  Though  the  writer  was  a  Jew  named 
Ezekiel,  it  is  significant  to  us  that  the  language 
of  Hellas  was  used.  Its  origin  was  classic 
rather  than  Jewish. 

But  English  drama,  if  in  this  sense  Greek 
in  origin,  has  been  from  the  first  a  product 
of  the  folk.  Whether  in  song  or  dance  or 
the  early  biblical  plays,  or  Shakespeare's  own 
works,  it  comes  from  the  soil. 

In  France  the  opposite  has  been  the  case. 
Racine  and  Corneille  based  their  works  on 
classic  models.  All  such  attempts  in  this 
country  have  led  to  failure. 

The  dramatic  instincts  of  Christians  had 
gone  to  the  building  up  of  a  ritual.  The  life 
and  sacrifice  of  Christ  provided  the  basis  of 
a  system  of  symbolism,  expressed  in  action 
and  by  Latin  words. 

68 


DRAMA    BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

What  could  be  more  natural  than  to  make 
the  meaning  clear  to  an  unlettered  peasantry 
through  acted  scenes  either  in  the  church  itself 
or  in  the  churchyard  ? 

The  great  festivals  were  of  course  Christmas 
and  Easter.  Easter  had  been  a  pagan  feast, 
and  it  actually  happened  that  the  flowers  offered 
in  the  old  Floralia,  or  again -in  the  Northern 
worship  of  Freia,  were  devoted  as  an  Easter 
offering  to  the  risen  Christ. 

Some  writers  believe  that  the  fact  that  our 
Christian  festivals  are,  in  nearly  every  case, 
grafted  upon  some  old  pagan  ceremony,  robs 
them  of  their  original  and  sacred  nature.  But 
I  rejoice  to  think  that  each  offering  that  we 
make  has  not  only  its  divine  but  its  human 
significance  :  that  when  I  remember  the  bounty 
of  the  Giver  at  harvest-time  I  am  not  unmind- 
ful of  Erda,  the  Earth  -  mother,  in  whom  I 
have  community  with  the  folk,  with  those  who 
are  dead,  or  alive,  or  who  yet  are  to  be.  I  have 
kinship  with  every  man  or  woman  who  says 
"  Our  Father,"  who  in  any  way  believes  in  the 
brotherhood  of  man. 

The  dramas  of  "The  Three  Maries"  and  of 
"  The  Descent  into  Hell "  were  among  the  first 
of  their  kind.  The  former  was  known  in  the 
tenth  century,  while  the  latter  is  mentioned 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

in  "  Piers  Plowman."  Of  "The  Descent" 
we  have  records.  On  Easter  Eve  a  procession 
was  formed  outside  the  church.  Approaching 
one  of  the  doors  a  character  representing  Christ 
knocked.  The  guardian  or  porter  of  hell 
sought  to  dissuade  him  from  entering.  But 
at  last  the  Master,  victorious,  broke  through 
and  burst  the  gates. 

On  Easter  Monday  a  similar  charade  or 
parable  took  place,  dealing  with  the  walk  to 
Emmaus. 

The  early  play  of  "The  Three  Kings"  at 
first  was  a  simple  ceremonial  for  Christmas 
in  which  the  kings  standing  on  the  altar  steps 
greeted  the  new-born  babe.  The  way  in  which 
these  works  developed  explains  the  power  of 
a  Church  which,  despite  Roman  ritual,  appealed 
to  the  national  and  human  character  of  the 
people  at  a  time  when  the  peasantry  and  many 
of  the  nobility  could  not  write.  This  was  no 
case  of  blind  superstition,  as  some  suppose, 
but  of  a  human  and  national  form  of  religion 
supplementing  the  mystic  and  sacramental. 
This  early  art  was  popular  because  it  grew 
out  of  the  folk.  The  play  of  "  The  Three 
Maries"  was  built  up  until  it  included  a 
dramatic  concept  of  Herod  and  his  doings.  In 
a  MS.  of  1060  the  part  is  written  down.  He 

70 


DRAMA   BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

is  portrayed  as  a  bombastic  and  opinionated 
fellow,  subject  to  brain  storms  and  maniacal 
temper.  Hence  Shakespeare's  allusion  in 
"  Hamlet''  to  those  who  "  out-Herod  Herod." 
And  the  Herod  of  "Salome"  is  revealed  by 
Richard  Strauss  to-day  as  the  neurotic  scion 
of  a  degenerate  race. 

Characterisation  such  as  this  was  bound  to 
burst  the  boundary  wall  of  illustrated  scrip- 
ture. 

Though  they  ceased  to  be  part  of  the  actual 
services  of  the  Church,  an  intimate  relationship 
continued.  The  Mysteries  were  plays  dealing 
with  the  Scriptures,  while  Miracle  plays  were 
based  upon  the  lives  of  the  saints.  The  first 
of  the  latter  was  said  to  have  been  written  by 
a  Benedictine  nun,  Hroswitha.  Though  a 
German,  living  in  the  reign  of  Otto  the  Great, 
in  Saxony,  she  wrote  in  Latin.  About  1125 
Hilarius  was  writing  Latin  plays  with  occasional 
lapses  into  the  common  speech.  He  was  an 
Englishman  who  studied  under  Abelard,  and 
his  plays  included  works  on  Darius  and  David, 
"  The  Raising  of  Lazarus,"  and,  of  course,  a 
nativity  play,  "  St.  Nicholas." 

"It  was  performed  on  the  Feast  of  the 
Saint,  when  an  actor  was  dressed  to  represent 
the  image  of  St.  Nicholas,  and  stood  in  a  niche 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

in  the  church.  To  the  shrine  came  a  wealthy 
heathen  who,  before  taking  a  journey,  com- 
mitted his  treasure  to  the  keeping  of  the  Saint. 
But  thieves  entered,  and  on  the  heathen's 
return  the  Saint  stood  guardian  over  a  rifled 
hold.  Furious,  he  took  a  whip  and  lashed 
the  image,  which  thereupon  assumed  life, 
descended,  and  accusing  the  robbers,  bade 
them  restore  their  plunder.  As  all  are  amazed 
at  this  marvel,  lo,  the  inanimate  image  is  once 
more  'silent  stone,  the  Saint  himself  appears, 
and  preaches  Christ.  The  whole  is  typical  of 
the  mediaeval  mind,  which  not  only  creates 
what  it  desires,  but  equally  eliminates  what 
displeases  it."1 

The  whole  point  of  true  dramatic  art  lies  in 
that  last  sentence.  As  Wagner  put  it,  the 
artist  creates  for  himself  a  vision  of  the  future 
and  longs  to  be  contained  therein.  Or  better, 
let  us  create  an  ideal  concept  of  life  in  the 
present,  and  let  our  practical,  matter-of-fact 
nation  see  to  it  that  everyday  life  is  up  to 
the  standard  of  our  dreams.  Of  course,  the 
modern  dramatist,  with  a  few  exceptions,  aims 
at  nothing  but  "  striking  situations/'  Neither 
he  nor  the  manager,  nor  the  poor,  patient 

1  "  English  Miracle  Plays,"  by  E.  Hamilton  Moore.   (Sherratt 
and  Hughes.) 

72 


DRAMA   BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

public  take  the  thing  seriously,  and  even  the 
jokes  are  painfully  evolved  to  "  bring  down 
the  house/'  So  that  the  "  patient  playgoer" 
of  to-day  would  have  been  very  much  at  sea 
in  the  Middle  Ages  when  people  took  things 
cheerfully  and  seriously. 

When  one  looks  at  the  childhood  of  the 
Middle  Ages  one  fears  that  our  own  period  is 
one  of  "  middle  age." 

This  was  going  on  all  over  Europe.  Bohemia 
had  its  Sepulchre  plays,  with  a  prayer  for  the 
welfare  of  the  folk.  For  the  emotion  was 
national  as  well  as  religious.  The  Passion 
Play  of  Oberammergau  alone  has  survived,  if 
we  except  the  "  Punch  and  Judy"  show,  which 
of  course  is  a  corrupt  version  of  the  play  of 
"  Pontius  Pilate."  By  "corrupt"  I  mean  no 
offence,  for  never  do  I  miss  a  chance  of 
witnessing  this  ancient  diversion. 

One  feature  about  these  old  plays,  which 
seems  to  me  of  the  greatest  importance,  is  that 
they  were  played  by  communities  representing 
trades  and  occupations.  For  in  modern  times 
the  stage  has  become  so  remote  from  actuality 
that  not  only  are  the  events  without  meaning 
and  the  dialogue  without  inspiration,  but  the 
actors  are,  for  the  most  part,  competitive 
specialists,  taking  no  interest  save  in  their 

73 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

own  professional  skill  and  the  consequent 
applause  and  pay.  The  play  of  "  Noah's 
Deluge  "  was  performed  most  appropriately  by 
the  water-leaders  and  drawers  of  the  Dee,  not 
by  a  number  of  isolated  units,  who  knew  more 
about  grease-paints  than  water. 

The  barbers  and  wax-chandlers  of  Chester 
did  a  work  in  which  appeared  "  God,  Abraham, 
Lot,  Isaac,  and  Melchisedec."  Why  they  did 
this  I  cannot  say,  but  they  would  be  the  better 
barbers  for  it,  and  their  candles  would  burn  as 
brightly. 

The  shepherds  of  Wakefield  did  a  Nativity 
play,  which  is  a  delightful  example  of  a  quality 
which  is  the  great  glory  of  folk-art.  It  com- 
bines rustic  buffoonery  with  true  religious  feel- 
ing. The  shepherds  were  Yorkshire  peasants, 
and,  though  the  author  probably  was  a  monk, 
the  transition  from  Wakefield  to  Bethlehem 
has  the  simple  inevitability  of  a  game  played 
by  children. 

Turning  to  the  Coventry  Cycle,  one  finds 
the  shearmen  engaged  in  a  Nativity  play.  The 
prophet  Isaiah  is  the  Prologue,  who,  in  a 
manner  by  no  means  unworthy  of  Isaiah,  sets 
out  his  prophecy.  This  in  the  natural  sequence 
is  fulfilled  by  the  Angel  Gabriel.  From  this 
point  the  play  is  full  of  interest  and  beauty, 

74 


DRAMA    BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

though  the  rustic  humour  of  the  Yorkshire 
shepherds  is  lacking.  And  we  cannot  but 
believe  that  the  people  were  nearer  to  God 
and  to  the  humour  and  mystery  of  life  in  those 
days.  Popular  amusement  was  based  upon 
Truth,  upon  the  setting  forth  of  vital  ideas  in 
dramatic  form. 

By  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century  the 
English  countryside  was  alive  with  drama, 
though  it  is  very  regrettable  that  Wycliffe  and 
the  " reformers"  stood  out  against  a  freedom 
of  religious  expression  which  of  course  should 
have  appealed  to  their  own  zeal.  In  fact, 
any  shortcomings  of  their  own  deeds,  and  the 
narrowness  that  led  to  so  bitter  a  religious 
struggle,  may  be  set  down  to  a  certain  lack  of 
broad  humanity  in  their  attitude  to  the  freedom 
of  the  early  drama.  The  cause  must  have 
suffered,  and  certainly  the  drama  fell  into 
decay. 

The  Corpus  Christi  Festival  often  was 
a  national  ceremony,  as  when  Richard  II. 
beheld  the  plays  at  York  in  1397.  The  feast 
certainly  tended  to  become  a  mere  revel,  and 
to  restore  the  true  nature  of  Corpus  Christi, 
on  the  loth  of  June  1426,  the  Mayor,  Peter 
Buckley,  and  the  citizens  of  York  decreed  that 
the  Sacramental  procession  should  take  place 

75 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

on  the  vigil  of  the  feast,  and  the  play  should 
be  performed  on  the  actual  day.  This  proves, 
I  think,  that  the  original  nature  of  English 
drama,  like  the  Greek,  was  religious,  and  that 
in  separating  Church  and  Stage  a  foolish  step 
was  taken. 

The  last  performance  of  this  York  Cycle 
took  place  in  1584,  and  it  was  in  1588  that 
Shakespeare  wrote  "Love's  Labour  Lost." 

The  link  between  these  early  national  plays 
and  the  labours  of  the  Elizabethans  is  un- 
broken. The  original  MSS.  of  the  York  plays 
was  in  all  probability  destroyed  by  Archbishop 
Grindal,  though  Queen  Elizabeth  gave  every 
encouragement  to  the  playwright  and  to  nobles 
who  were  willing  to  act  as  patrons  to  the  Art 
of  Drama. 

The  outstanding  note  of  the  period  was  the 
unity  of  all  classes  where  plays  were  concerned. 
Being  thoroughly  popular,  they  were,  in  the 
absence  of  the  press,  veritable  "  chronicles  of 
the  times." 

For  many  years  the  lost  art  of  the  Mysteries 
and  Moralities  lingered  in  Cornwall.  There, 
in  open-air  theatres,  plays  of  the  Creation,  the 
Passion,  and  the  Resurrection  were  performed 
tt>  a  people  to  whom  the  modern  theatre  of 
Shakespeare  was  unknown.  They  were  more 


DRAMA   BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

mythical  in  conception  and  broader  in  dramatic 
resource  than  those  of  the  other  cycles.  And 
there  is  every  reason  to  suppose  that  anti- 
phonal  hymns  on  the  lines  of  the  Greek  chorus 
were  used.  This  means  that  quite  a  large 
body  of  the  people  took  part,  as  in  the  modern 
choral  society,  a  fact  worth  remembering  when 
we  consider  the  relation  of  modern  choral  art 
to  the  stage. 

The  various  Craft  Guilds  continued  their 
religious  plays  even  when  Protestantism  had 
effectively  censored  Roman  Catholic  works, 
thus  maintaining  a  catholicity  apart  from  any 
definite  party. 

The  folk,  being  by  nature  dramatic,  would 
not  give  up  a  source  of  inspiration  so  full  of 
pleasure  and  self-expression. 

It  was  inevitable  that  the  Elizabethan  theatre, 
centring  at  the  Globe  and  Blackfriars  in  London, 
but  taking  root  also  at  the  houses  and  castles 
of  nobles  all  over  the  country,  should  to  some 
extent  curb  the  creative  spirit  of  the  folk-play. 
The  revival  of  the  Elizabethan  stage  was  a 
forward  step  that  naturally  left  much  that  was 
good  in  the  lurch. 

But  not  only  was  the  folk-play  overshadowed. 
The  classical  models  had  been  followed  by 
those  to  whom  European  travel  and  culture  had 

77 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

revealed  the  possibilities  of  polite  art.  And 
naturally  the  nobles  and  elegants  who  tried  to 
imitate  the  classics  without  the  genius  of  the 
old  authors,  provided  a  very  cold  dish  for 
dilettanti  and  dabblers. 

However  crude  the  folk-plays  were,  and 
they  were  not  nearly  so  unskilful  as  might  be 
supposed,  they  have  retained  an  interest  and 
vitality  to  this  day.  Were  I  to  record  the 
doings  of  the  " classicist"  school  the  reader  of 
to-day  would  lose  patience. 

The  secular  drama  of  Shakespeare  broke  in 
like  a  "  sou'-wester."  I  am  not  at  all  sure 
whether  the  victory  was  not  too  complete,  and 
that  the  old  Craft  Guild  plays  should  not  be 
revived,  as  indeed  has  been  the  case  with 
"  Everyman  "  revivals.  Perhaps  it  would  be 
better  to  start  again  from  the  beginning,  on 
the  lines  of  the  modern  village  plays. 

A  careful  study  of  their  possibilities  would 
form  part  of  the  literary  adviser's  work,  at  the 
Memorial  Theatre,  were  any  such  policy  decided 
upon  by  the  Governors. 

For  a  musical  quality  may  be  found  in  these 
old  plays,  a  feature  seldom  mentioned  by  those 
whose  business  it  should  be  to  reveal  the 
natural  beauties  of  our  arts.  I  have  believed 
for  a  long  time  that  the  finest  work  could  never 

78 


DRAMA    BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

be  popular  so  long  as  it  remained  merely 
literary,  musical,  or  pictorial. 

The  literary  tradition  of  Shakespeare  almost 
succeeded  in  banishing  him  from  the  theatre  to 
the  schoolroom  and  lecture-hall. 

On  the  other  hand  the  qualities  of  music  and 
dance  appeal  strongly  to  the  people.  When 
these  qualities  are  absent  from  the  drama 
popular  interest  is  driven  away.  The  public 
never  were  or  ever  can  be  interested  in  art 
unless  in  some  way  they  come  into  touch  with 
human  and  festive  conditions. 

Until  for  the  purposes  of  this  study  I  looked 
fairly  closely  into  the  matter  I  did  not  know 
to  what  an  extent  history  had  repeated  itself. 
If  we  look  at  these  old  dramas  not  only  is 
dramatic  action  and  song  present  in  a  simple 
form,  but  the  very  setting  of  them,  in  churches 
or  in  the  open  air,  forces  us  back  to  nature  and 
simplicity  of  stage-craft.  Simple  realism  upon 
the  stage  is  right.  A  restful  scene,  or  the 
symbolism  of  a  church,  the  essentially  English 
character  of  a  scene  in  the  garden  of  a  castle, 
brings  back  the  modern  stage-manager  from 
the  amazing  uselessness  of  an  elaborate  setting 
in  which  no  one  has  the  faintest  belief. 

The  only  exception  to  this  is,  of  course, 
pageantry,  a  form  of  display  that  does  not  aim 

79 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

at   spectacular   realism,  but   at   generous   and 
romantic  festivity. 

This  union  of  the  arts  in  their  simplest 
forms,  for  the  pleasure  of  the  people,  is  the 
peculiar  glory  of  Stratford,  and  is  destined  in 
ever  greater  degree  to  be  her  contribution  to 
the  world-history  of  the  stage.  This  the 
critics  are  beginning  to  observe,  and  the  re- 
search of  scholars  reveals  the  beginning  of  the 
movement  in  pre-Shakespearean  days. 

In  the  chapters  upon  Shakespeare  I  shall 
show  how  musical  were  his  devices,  and  how 
essentially  scenic  his  conceptions,  that  his 
particular  form  of  art  lay  midway  between  the 
eternal  rightness  of  the  primitive  folk-drama 
and  the  wider  developments  which  led  to  the 
modern  music  drama. 

Scholars  like  Mr.  Sidney  Lee,  and  special 
pleaders  on  the  lines  of  Mr.  Frank  Harris,  have 
done  their  best  to  explain  Shakespeare.  But 
the  stumbling-block  always  has  been  that  the 
people  have  not  met  them  half-way,  as  would 
have  been  the  case  had  simpler  forms  of  drama, 
and  a  general  conception  of  the  interplay  of 
the  arts,  put  them  into  close  touch  with  his 
idiom. 

For  instance,  whenever  songs  occur  in  a 
Shakespearean  work,  the  action  stops  dead, 

80 


Photo  by  L.  Caswall  Smith 

MISS  GENEVIEVE  WARD  AS  VOLUMNIA 


DRAMA   BEFORE    SHAKESPEARE 

and  a  virtuoso  display  takes  place.  Then  the 
drama  ambles  on. 

Yet  if  we  look  at  "  Childermas  Day,"  a 
miracle  play  done  in  the  year  1512,  a  musical 
epilogue  followed,  which  either  was  a  choral 
dance  or  led  up  to  a  dance  in  which  the  audience 
joined.  Thus  the  gulf  was  bridged  between 
audience  and  player,  much  as  is  the  case  with 
Miss  Neal's  folk-dances. 

Of  course  this  could  not  be  done  in  the 
regular  theatre,  though  the  spirit  of  it  would 
bind  the  player  and  audience  more  closely. 
Children  were  trained  to  sing  in  these  plays 
so  that  music  must  have  been  an  integral  part 
of  them. 

These  children  also  took  part  in  the  acting, 
a  most  human  influence  both  for  the  children 
and  the  drama.  The  late  Mr.  Goddard  assured 
us  that  in  "The  Adoration  of  the  Shepherds" 
(in  the  Towneley  collection  of  plays)  part- 
singing  was  used. 

Therefore  we  have  authority  in  advocating 
the  union  of  the  arts,  and  in  setting  up  an  ideal 
of  the  theatre  much  wider  than  that  of  the 
specialised  spoken  play.  It  will  be  seen  later 
that  Shakespeare's  art  is  above  all  rhapsodic, 
and  a  form  of  song,  inasmuch  as  all  the 
essential  features  of  folk-art  are  to  be  found  in 

81  F 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

his  dramas,  richer  and  more  sonorous,  more 
pliable  and  fluent,  but  not  to  be  confused  with 
classical  verse,  nor  their  golden  coinage  to  be 
debased  by  the  silver  of  stilted  declamation, 
nor  the  tinsel  of  realistic  display. 


82 


Ill 

CONCERNING  WILLIAM   SHAKESPEARE 

OUR  century  is  the  high  tide  of  the  personal 
equation.  And  for  that  reason  I  want  the 
reader  to  enter  into  a  conspiracy.  Let  us 
imagine  that  we  have  just  discovered  Shake- 
speare ;  that  his  works  have  been  banished 
from  the  stage  and  his  name  forgotten.  Then 
let  us  discuss  his  personality  and  his  accom- 
plishments. By  this  I  cast  no  slur  upon  critical 
scholarship,  which  has  taught  us  many  things. 
Without  such  men  as  Sidney  Lee,  the  late 
Dr.  Furnival,  Edward  Dowden,  Israel  Gol- 
lancz,  and  others ;  and  without  the  band  of 
Extension  lecturers,  we  should  not  have  the 
educational  forces  of  the  world  on  the  side 
of  popular  drama.  Shakespeare  might,  like 
Marlowe,  Chapman,  Dekker,  Ben  Jonson, 
and  Tourneur,  be  cut  off  from  the  traffic  of 
the  stage.  Happily  the  scholar  has  not  shunned 
the  playwright. 

And    in    dealing  with   the   personal   aspect 

83 


THE    SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

of  the  man,  I  shall  be  forced  to  rely  some- 
what upon  Mr.  Frank  Harris,  who  is  at  war 
with  the  professors.  The  reason  that  I  do 
so  is  simple.  Harris  has  emphasised  the 
humanity  of  Shakespeare,  and  we  owe  him 
thanks  for  that. 

Most  of  us  believe  that  Shakespeare  was 
himself;  a  number  of  people  think  that  he 
was  Bacon  ;  and  a  very  select  circle  are  quite 
sure  that  he  was  the  Duke  of  Rutland.  To 
Sir  Edwin  Durning  Lawrence,  William  Shake- 
speare was  an  illiterate  fool,  who  lent  his  name 
to  a  gentleman  who  produced  literature  of  a 
peculiarly  streaky  variety.  But  the  certainty  of 
the  Baconian  has  met  its  match  in  Mr.  Harris, 
whose  book,  "The  Man  Shakespeare,"  deals 
boldly  with  the  personal  possibilities  of  the 
poet. 

In  my  summary  of  his  life,  in  my  suggestions 
as  to  the  possible  motives  of  his  works,  I  am 
indebted  to  him  and  to  the  late  Thomas  Tyler, 
who  spent  many  years  in  tracing  the  fable  and 
fact  of  the  poet's  career. 

He  was  the  son  of  John  Shakespeare,  dealer 
in  leather,  meat,  and  skins,  at  Stratford-upon- 
Avon.  Succeeding  in  business,  John  married 
Mary  Arden,  who  was  of  a  well-known  old 
Catholic  family.  In  1568  John  Shakespeare 


CONCERNING   SHAKESPEARE 

became  bailiff  of  Stratford,  and  during  his 
year  of  office  encouraged  visiting  companies 
of  actors.  That  was  four  years  after  the  birth 
of  their  first  son,  William,  who  was  born  on 
April  23,1  1564.  He  had  free  education  at 
Stratford  Grammar  School,  and  at  the  age  of 
thirteen  began  to  work  for  his  father,  who  was 
in  financial  straits.  His  Latin  and  Greek  pro- 
bably were  small,  but,  at  the  same  time,  not 
less  than  that  of  the  popular  actor  or  dramatist 
of  to-day.  By  1586  his  father's  ruin  was  com- 
plete, and  William  Shakespeare,  according  to 
Rowe,  ran  wild  among  companions  as  idle  as 
himself.  But  they  were  active  upon  occasion, 
and  the  old  tale  of  the  poet's  prosecution  by 
Sir  Thomas  Lucy  for  deer-stealing  is  a  probable 
one.  So  far  the  dramatist's  training  had  been 
admirable.  Poverty,  low  companions,  and  ir- 
regular schooling  are  better  bases  for  creative 
literature  than  a  strictly  academic  career. 

It  is  customary  to  regard  a  certain  coarse- 
ness that  one  finds  in  Shakespeare  as  char- 
acteristic of  the  period.  A  study  of  Lyly  and 
the  Euphuists  fails  to  bear  this  out.  The 
polite  literature  of  the  day  was  polite.  The 
Queen,  the  men  of  action,  and  the  modern  school 

1  This,  though  certainly  the  day  of  his  death,  probably  is  the 
birthday  also. 

85 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

of  playwrights  beginning  with  Marlowe,  were 
rough  and  outspoken  in  speech,  and  in  action 
unrestrained.  So  was  Shakespeare  at  the 
beginning  of  his  career,  and  only  towards  the 
end  do  we  find  his  rude  joy  in  life  and  speech 
becoming  mellowed  by  age  and  suffering.  He 
was  like  Nature  herself,  full  of  the  impulse 
of  Spring,  the  prodigality  of  generous  Summer, 
the  deeper  tints  of  Autumn.  An  early  death 
prevented  the  cold  of  Winter  from  chilling  his 
blood  or  frosting  the  ripe  fruit  of  his  genius. 

Concerning  his  marriage  various  opinions 
have  been  set  forth.  But  the  most  probable 
is  that  the  Hathaway  wedding  was  a  mistake 
that  drove  the  poet  in  upon  himself  and  made 
a  man  of  him. 

On  November  27,  1582,  the  Bishop  of 
Worcester  signed  a  licence  for  a  marriage 
between  William  Shakespeare  and  Anne 
Whately.  Two  farmers,  Sandell  and  Richard- 
son, bound  themselves  in  a  surety  of  ^40  to 
safeguard  the  Bishop  in  case  of  a  "  just  cause 
or  impediment."  This  was  forthcoming,  inas- 
much as  Shakespeare  was  compelled  to  sub- 
stitute Anne  Hathaway,  with  whom  he  had 
become  entangled,  for  Anne  Whately,  whom 
his  free  will  had  sought.  In  a  word,  the 
marriage  licence  held  good,  but  there  was  a 

86 


CONCERNING   SHAKESPEARE 

change  in  the  bride.  On  May  26,  1583,  a 
daughter  was  born  to  them,  but  the  marriage 
was  unhappy.  In  "  Twelfth  Night"  Shake- 
speare gives  one  key  to  the  trouble  : 

"  Let  still  the  woman  take 
An  elder  than  herself;  so  wears  she  to  him." 

Shakespeare  required  a  wife  whom  he  could 
mould,  and  a  youth  of  eighteen  finds  it  hard 
to  drive  a  woman  of  twenty-six.  In  1585, 
following  close  upon  the  birth  of  twins,  Shake- 
speare left  Anne  and  Stratford,  nor  did  he 
return  until  some  ten  years  later.  Evidently 
the  poet  determined  to  be  free  at  all  costs, 
and  for  ever. 

The  nature  of  his  domestic  troubles  may 
be  surmised  by  comparison  with  another  great 
dramatist  of  similar  aims  and  scope. 

Having  closely  examined  the  abundant  evi- 
dence in  the  case  of  Wagner  and  his  unhappy 
first  marriage,  I  should  be  inclined  to  say  that 
Anne  Hathaway,  like  Minna  Planer,  had  a  way 
most  trying  to  a  young  egoistic  artist  such  as 
Shakespeare  no  doubt  was. 

Though  the  evidence  is  scanty,  it  is  clear 
that  the  poet  left  Stratford  for  London,  and 
that  his  wife  did  not  accompany  him. 

When    Shakespeare   was   twenty-three    "a 

87 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

company  of  actors,  under  the  nominal  patron- 
age of  the  Queen  and  Lord  Leicester,  visited 
Stratford."  Burbage  was  in  it,  and  would  no 
doubt  discuss  the  question  of  London,  which 
would  have  great  attractions  for  an  unsettled 
young  man.  There  is  a  story  to  the  effect 
that  Shakespeare  ran  away,  held  horses  at  the 
Blackfriars  Theatre,  and  became  a  playwright 
in  the  intervals  between  holding  horses. 

That  he  should  not  at  once  come  to  his  own, 
that  a  hack  playwright  like  Greene  should  de- 
scribe him  as  "  Shake-scene,"  is  not  surprising. 
He  came  to  know  the  theatre  in  every  phase 
and  feature  by  practical  experience.  But  it 
was  probably  to  his  early  poems  that  he  looked 
for  success,  and  only  gradually  realised  what 
an  instrument  the  free  stage  of  Elizabeth  might 
be  for  a  new  kind  of  art.  For  Shakespeare 
was,  for  a  time  at  least,  the  Richard  Strauss 
of  England,  which  accounts  for  his  slow  pro- 
gress. In  this  day,  when  half  the  art  of 
Shakespeare  is  clouded  beneath  fustian,  the 
symphonic  character  of  his  construction  is  lost. 
Yet  never  could  he  have  been  so  utterly  wasted 
as  this  story  suggests. 

It  is  improbable  for  several  reasons.  Shake- 
speare was  a  member  of  a  good  family.  Until 
his  father  lost  his  money,  which  probably  was 

88 


CONCERNING   SHAKESPEARE 

due  to  religious  persecution,  the  Shakespeares 
were  well-to-do.  And  then  the  Ardens  were 
among  the  most  important  people  of  the 
county.  Of  sound  burgher  stock  on  the  one 
hand,  and  something  better  on  the  maternal 
side  of  the  family,  it  is  unlikely  that  William 
Shakespeare,  however  out  of  favour,  would 
have  gone  to  town  without  introductions.  And 
to  a  man  of  his  abilities  it  is  not  likely  that  his 
friends  would  allot  menial  work.  Who  were 
those  friends  ? 

One  of  them  would  be  Ralph  Hewins,  a 
governor  of  the  Virginia  Company.  Indeed 
it  was  a  descendant  of  this  gentleman,  Mr. 
W.  A.  S.  Hewins,  who  reminded  me  of  a 
fact  easily  forgotten  by  writers  of  the  present 
day.  Under  the  old  highway  system,  at  each 
parish  a  vagabond  might  be  detained  in  the 
house  of  correction,  and  had  William  Shake- 
speare run  away  without  money  or  credentials, 
his  career  would  have  been  dramatic  in  another 
sense.  So  that  Shakespeare  came  to  London 
as  most  men  come,  with  some  sort  of  prospects. 

Whether  he  came  as  a  recruit  with  Burbage, 
or  later,  armed  with  letters  of  introduction, 
does  not  matter. 

That  Ralph  Hewins  would  be  available  in 
case  of  need  cannot  be  proved.  But  it  is  a 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

fact  that  members  of  the  families  of  Sandell 
and  Richardson,  the  names  of  the  witnesses 
to  Shakespeare's  marriage,  appear  in  the  Bret- 
forton  Parish  Register  (British  Museum)  as 
witnesses  to  Hewins'  wills.  This  forms  some 
sort  of  link. 

Both  the  Ardens  and  the  Hewins  (which 
word,  by  the  way,  has  more  than  eighty  varia- 
tions of  spelling,  Euens,  &c.)  were  Catholic 
families.  Ralph  Hewins,  too,  was  a  cousin  of 
Sir  G.  Calvert  (first  Lord  Baltimore),  and  was 
connected  through  Virginia  Company  business 
with  the  Earl  of  Southampton.  The  adven- 
turous spirit  of  the  age  struck  home.  Without 
the  vivid  interest  so  early  kindled  by  the  colo- 
nising skill  of  the  people,  "The  Tempest" 
might  never  have  received  so  fair  a  setting. 
With  men  of  mark  to  aid  him  in  case  of  need 
Shakespeare  no  doubt  joined  the  theatrical 
profession  low  down.  But  he  entered  by  the 
stage  door,  and  did  not  stand  with  the  horses. 
Probably  he  began  as  actor,  and  gradually 
found  occasion  to  show  his  qualities  as  an 
adapter  of  plays. 

This  preoccupation  with  the  practical  busi- 
ness of  the  stage  had  a  singular  result.  As  a 
rule  the  man  who  at  an  early  age  comes  into 
touch  with  the  theatre  becomes  a  part  of  the 

90 


CONCERNING    SHAKESPEARE 

machinery,  accepts  its  traditions,  and  ceases  to 
think  for  himself. 

But,  looking  at  Shakespeare's  beginnings, 
what  do  we  find  ? 

In  " Love's  Labour  Lost,"  produced  in  1588, 
and  therefore  the  first  of  his  dramas,  the  scene 
opens  thus,  as  the  King,  Biron,  and  the  others 
enter  : — 

"  King.  Let  Fame,  that  all  hunt  after  in  their  lives, 
Live  registered  upon  our  brazen  tombs, 
And  then  grace  us  in  the  disgrace  of  death ; 
When,  spite  of  cormorant  devouring  time, 
The  endeavour  of  this  present  breath  may  buy 
That  honour,  which  shall  bate  his  scythe's  keen 

edge, 
And  make  us  heirs  of  all  eternity." 

Now  take  any  pre- Shakespearean  play. 
Many  of  them  begin  with  prologues.  "  Gor- 
boduc,"  by  Norton  and  Sackville,  leads  off 
with  an  allegorical  pantomime,  accompanied 
by  music.  Marlowe  opens  "  Tamburlaine " 
thus  : — 

"  I  find  myself  aggrieved 
Yet  insufficient  to  express  the  same, 
For  it  requires  a  great  and  thundering  speech  ! " 

Shakespeare  begins  his  first  play  with  a 
speech  about  Fame,  just  as  Wagner,  in  his 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

early  opera,  "  Rienzi,"  sets  forth  with  blare 
and  blaze.  It  was  not  until  I  had  copied  these 
lines  that  I  discovered  that  the  identical  passage 
had  struck  Mr.  Harris,  though  he  had  not  seen 
fit  to  take  the  comparison  further. 

Now  nearly  all  these  dramatists  began  either 
with  a  descriptive  speech  (in  lieu  of  elaborate 
scenery),  or  dumb  show.  Marlowe  believes  in 
a  "  thundering  speech/'  but  Shakespeare  begins 
on  the  personal  note,  and  develops  musically. 

If  you  care  to  look  at  the  opening  speeches 
of  Shakespeare's  plays,  he  always  opens  in  this 
way. 

By  " musically"  I  mean  that  he  leads  off, 
not  with  a  wordy  description  or  a  piece  of 
dumb  show  in  the  manner  of  his  time,  but 
strikes  a  chord,  as  it  were,  from  which  he 
develops  gradually.  We  hear  a  great  deal 
about  the  looseness  of  construction  of  the 
plays  as  compared  with  their  rich  value  in 
thought.  This  is  not  the  case  at  all.  Shake- 
speare was  first  of  all  a  musician  by  tempera- 
ment— not  a  logician.  He  had  many  threads 
of  ideas  weaving  themselves  amongst  his  pages, 
as  in  the  "  scores  "  of  a  Wagner  or  Strauss. 

Now  Mr.  Harris  has  noted  this  philosophic 
thread.  Wrongly,  in  my  opinion,  he  attributes 
this  to  the  dramatist's  weaving  of'  personal 

92 


CONCERNING   SHAKESPEARE 

autobiographical  details  into  the  woof  of  his 
plays. 

Of  course  a  man  must  draw  upon  his  own 
consciousness  for  his  ideas,  but  at  least  as 
many  of  those  ideas  will  be  imaginary  as  actual 
records. 

When  Hamlet  bade  Ophelia  "Get  thee  to  a 
nunnery,"  he  was  evincing  the  feeling  that  all 
literary  men  experience  when  love  hinders 
their  work.  He  was  not  necessarily  recording 
a  similar  scene  in  an  actual  love  affair  of  his  own. 

Shakespeare  had  come  to  know  life  in  every 
phase  at  a  period  of  intellectual  activity,  of 
national  and  artistic  renaissance.  Therefore 
he  was  not  satisfied  to  write  mechanical,  ex- 
citing plays,  but  sought,  perhaps  instinctively, 
to  colour  them.  And  this  colour  took  two 
forms.  His  ideas  upon  life  are  woven  like 
many  coloured  strands  of  silk  through  a 
tapestry  upon  which  his  action  is  portrayed 
boldly.  And  the  wealth  of  verbal  music 
apparent  in  his  early  poems,  such  as  "Venus 
and  Adonis,"  is  the  musical  medium  by  which 
the  fabric  is  made  all  of  one  piece. 

There  has  been  much  talk  of  this  structural 
looseness.  But,  viewed  from  this  standpoint, 
there  is  none.  The  charge  vanishes.  Once 
admit  that  Shakespeare  used  word  and  scene 

93 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

musically,  the  existence  of  a  plain  matter-of- 
fact  drama  of  brief  talk  and  quick  action  no 
longer  need  be  demanded. 

As  well  might  one  cut  out  the  music  of  an 
opera  and  leave  only  the  words  and  action. 
That  is  what  I  mean  by  the  symphonic  use 
of  words — a  simultaneous  development  of  the 
body  of  the  play  and  its  soul — the  "  play 
beyond  the  play." 

This  gives  at  once  the  secret  of  Shake- 
speare's power  to  please  the  child  and  charm 
the  scholar,  to  feast  the  eye  and  ear  and  at 
the  same  time  to  satisfy  the  soul. 

By  this  means  his  characters  are  developed 
so  that,  without  undue  explanation  or  use  of 
allegory,  each  is  a  type  or  symbol,  from 
Hamlet,  Othello,  Macbeth,  to  Falstaff,  Polo- 
nius,  Caliban,  Prospero,  Beatrice,  Benedict, 
and  Jaques. 

If  proof  be  needed  of  a  quality  apparent  in  the 
plays,  it  is  to  be  found  in  his  attitude  to  music. 

Take  the  lines  of  "  Twelfth  Night  "  :— 

"  If  Music  be  the  food  of  Love,  play  on ; 
Give  me  excess  of  it,  that  surfeiting 
The  appetite  may  sicken  and  so  die. 
That  strain  again ;  it  had  a  dying  fall : 
Oh,  it  came  o'er  my  ear  like  the  sweet  south 
That  breathes  upon  a  bank  of  violets/* 
94 


CONCERNING    SHAKESPEARE 

Not  only  does  Shakespeare  write  about  music ; 
he  hears  it,  and  fain  would  make  his  words 
more  than  words  becoming  orchestral.  Thus 
he  writes  words  which  have  no  sense,  no 
practical  meaning,  save  the  conjuring  up  of  a 
musical  mood. 

In  his  day,  when  chamber  music  among  the 
rich  and  folk-songs  everywhere  were  common, 
his  audience  would  realise  the  suggestion. 
Therefore,  at  his  great  lyrical  moments,  instead 
of  working  up  to  a  situation  and  bringing  down 
the  curtain  with  a  bang,  he  wafts  this  allur- 
ing spell  of  suggested  music.  In  "The 
Tempest "  : — 

"  This  music  crept  by  me  upon  the  waters 
Allaying  both  their  fury  and  their  passion, 
With  its  sweet  air." 

In  early  plays  such  as  "  Much  Ado  About 
Nothing"  songs  are  introduced.  And  in  "  The 
Tempest,"  when  the  master  had  reached  the 
point  at  which  we  may  do  "  what  we  will,"  Ariel 
trips  the  earth. 

My  case  is  proved,  so  I  will  pass  briefly  to 
the  one  remaining  quality  of  Shakespeare, 
which  is  not  as  a  rule  recognised — his  mysti- 
cism. There  is  nothing  decadent  about  the 
man,  nor  does  he  stop  at  a  general  recognition 

95 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

of  God  such  as,  in  all  ages,  satisfies  the  general 
body  of  men,  including  dramatic  authors. 

The  Ardens  were  Catholics,  and  the  fact  of 
John  Shakespeare's  financial  straits,  at  a  period 
in  history  when  well-found  burgesses  did  not 
lose  their  position  suddenly,  points  to  religious 
persecution  in  his  case.  For  it  was  no  time  of 
toleration. 

Shakespeare  probably  did  not  take  any 
risks.  His  mystical  allusions  and  reference 
to  prayers  (as  in  Desdemona's  death  scene) 
are  never  exclusively  Catholic,  but  they  are 
not  the  reflections  of  a  plain  "  unsuperstitious 
man."  Just  about  that  time  the  Rosicrucians 
were  making  themselves  felt,  and  it  was  said 
that  Bacon  was  among  their  earliest  inquirers. 
Not  only  the  Catholic  but  the  Lutheran  type 
of  Nonconformist  was  a  mystic.  Therefore 
the  universal  and  godly  mysticism  of  Shakes- 
peare was  in  keeping  with  the  popular  feeling 
at  its  best. 

And  if  this  theory  be  sound,  coupled  with 
the  idea  of  musical  development,  it  accounts 
for  the  quality  of  his  plays.  Where  he  is  not 
dominated  by  one  or  other  of  these  qualities, 
music  and  mysticism,  he  is  given  to  platitude 
as  are  all  Englishmen. 

"To  be  or  not  to  be,  that  is  the  question?" 


Photo  by  IV.  &•  D.  Downey 

MR.  J.  FORBES-ROBERTSON  AS  HAMLET  AND  MISS  GERTRUDE 
ELIOT   AS   OPHELIA 


CONCERNING    SHAKESPEARE 

is  common  alike  to  the  lover  or  the  stock- 
broker. "  Is  she  the  one  woman?"  "What 
will  Wall  Street  do?"  Many  of  his  famous 
utterances  have  this  direct  simplicity  of  the 
non-committal  Englishman. 

His  reverence  for  law  and  order,  his  evident 
delight  in  pageantry  and  Court  life,  would 
never  have  set  him  beside  Goethe  and  above 
Dante,  with  Beethoven  and  akin  to  Wagner. 

Faith,  not  slavish  but  ingrained,  and  Love, 
not  sentimental  but  passionate — even  lawless 
— have  moulded  for  us  a  man,  who  is  an  in- 
strument in  spheral  Hands. 

What  was  this  love  of  his?  After  leaving 
Stratford  his  relations  with  his  wife  were 
broken.  In  his  will  his  "second  best  bed" 
alone  was  left  to  her.  The  explanation  has 
been  sought  in  Mary  Fitton,  the  Dark  Lady 
of  the  Sonnets. 

Mary  Fitton  was  the  second  daughter  of  Sir 
Edward  Fitton,  of  Gawsworth,  Cheshire.  In 
1595  she  was  one  of  the  maids  of  honour  to 
Queen  Elizabeth,  at  whose  Court  she  made 
a  great  stir.  In  1600,  Lord  Herbert,  son  of 
the  Earl  of  Worcester,  married  another  maid 
of  honour.  The  Queen  attended  the  ceremony, 
and  Mary  Fitton  took  part  in  the  masque 
that  followed,  and  also  led  the  dancing.  Her 

97  G 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

relationship  with  William  Herbert,  Earl  of  Pem- 
broke, is  well  known.  Her  life  at  Court  was 
what  we  should  describe  as  dissolute  ;  she  and 
her  nobleman  lover  had  a  narrow  escape  of  im- 
prisonment. Nor  does  it  appear  that  she  was 
faithful  even  to  him.  Therefore,  the  argument 
that  Mary  could  not  be  the  object  of  Shake- 
speare's lyrical  passion  does  not  hold  good. 
Indeed,  in  1607  s^e  married  Captain  William 
Polwhele,  and  she  is  also  mentioned  in  con- 
temporary records  as  the  wife  of  Captain 
Lougher.  Neither  of  these,  it  would  seem, 
was  more  important  in  his  day  than  Shake- 
speare, who  probably  moved  in  a  Bohemian 
way  among  all  grades  of  society,  from  the 
lowest  to  the  highest.  Her  own  interest  in 
acting  would,  no  doubt,  bring  her  into  direct 
contact  with  him.  And  if,  as  seems  likely,  the 
"  Mr.  W.  H."  to  whom  Shakespeare  dedicated 
the  sonnets  was  William  Herbert,  it  is  quite 
conceivable  that  he  was  in  love  with  her  and 
sought  this  strange  means  of  making  his  passion 
known  without  undue  offence  to  his  friend. 
Mr.  Sidney  Lee  has  described  the  theory  as 
"  fantastic,"  and  there  are  certainly  anomalies. 
Mary  is  described  as  having  "  a  long  nose,  and 
narrow  face,  and  a  weak,  rounded,  retiring 
chin,"  and  to  be  moreover  fair.  Now  it  is  just 


CONCERNING    SHAKESPEARE 

possible  that  Shakespeare  used  the  terms 
"  dark  "  or  "  black  "  with  regard  to  her  repu- 
tation, which  at  one  time  was  both.  This 
symbolism,  too,  would  have  made  it  easier 
for  him  to  dedicate  the  Sonnets  to  her  lover, 
while  Mary  herself  would  understand.  The 
following  sonnet  bears  this  interpretation, 
though  he  would  be  a  bold  man  to  insist 
unduly  upon  any  theory  in  a  matter  that  has 
so  little  evidence  to  show : — 

"  In  the  old  age  black  was  not  counted  fair, 
Or  if  it  were,  it  bore  not  beauty's  name ; 
But  now  is  black  beauty's  successive  heir, 
And  beauty  slander'd  with  a  bastard  shame ; 
For  since  each  hand  hath  put  on  nature's  power, 
Fairing  the  foul  with  art's  false  borrowed  face, 
Sweet  beauty  hath  no  name,  no  holy  bower, 
But  is  profan'd,  if  not  lives  in  disgrace. 
Therefore  my  mistress'  eyes  are  raven  black, 
Her  eyes  so  suited ;  and  they  mourners  seem 
At  such,  who,  not  born  fair,  no  beauty  lack, 
Slandering  creation  with  a  false  esteem : 
Yet  so  they  mourn,  becoming  of  their  woe, 
That  every  tongue  says,  beauty  should  look  so." 

In  his  special  plea,  "  The  Man  Shakespeare/' 
Mr.  Harris  goes  so  far  as  to  claim  that  in  his 
plays  Shakespeare  is  consciously  self-revealed. 
This  is  a  much  more  sensible  supposition  than 

99 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

those  by  which  the  plays  are  reduced  to  the 
level  of  a  Baconian  Chinese  puzzle.  But  one 
must  accept  the  theory  with  caution,  for  equally 
it  is  certain  that  Shakespeare,  becoming  in- 
terested in  various  phases  of  life,  desires  to 
reveal  them,  though  incidentally  dipping  into 
the  palette  of  his  own  heart.  No  man  who 
had  not  known  jealousy  could  have  written 
"  Othello/'  Othello  is  the  outcast,  the 
Bohemian  rather  than  the  Moor,  who  has  to 
give  up  his  love  to  those  covered  by  the 
whiteness  of  nobility.  The  Court  of  Elizabeth 
was  full  of  snobs. 

Hamlet,  in  this  limited  sense,  may  be  a 
portrait  of  the  poet.  The  inconsistency  and 
the  curious  compounding  of  decadence ;  of  in- 
terest in  art ;  the  artistic  desire  to  work  up 
the  " play-scene"  till  the  Court  is  staggered  by 
its  reality ;  are  actual  and  authentic  revelations 
of  a  man  whose  whole  life  was  an  attempt 
to  visualise  himself  and  his  philosophy,  and 
to  make  the  world  stare. 

I  shall  never  forget  Irving  in  "Coriolanus," 
for  it  revealed,  as  no  reading  might,  Shake- 
speare's opinion  of  the  people  or  "  crowd,"  the 
"wisdom  of  whose  choice  is  rather  to  have 
one's  hat  than  one's  heart."  Shakespeare's 
attitude  to  Falstaff,  even  to  lago,  is  more 

100 


CONCERNING    SHAKESPEARE 

tolerant   than    to   the  mob,  who  have  no  in- 
dividuality, but  yet  are  units. 

As  a  rule  some  great  motive  such  as  fate, 
ambition,  or  the  great  darkness  of  "  Lear," 
dominates  the  whole  drama.  But  Mr.  Harris 
holds  that  Mary  Fitton  and  Shakespeare  him- 
self provide  the  very  basis  upon  which  the 
great  fabric  of  the  plays  was  reared.  There 
may  have  been  much  of  Malvolio  in  him  as 
well  as  Hamlet  and  Othello.  Jaques  and 
Romeo,  too,  were  in  him.  And  the  last  of  his 
great  works,  "  The  Tempest,"  contains  surely 
a  picture  of  Shakespeare  in  his  own  person, 
which  Extension  lecturers  used  to  sanction.  It 
is  to  be  hoped  that  the  boldness  of  Mr.  Harris's 
books  will  not  have  driven  people  to  deny  this 
vital  fact.  For  in  Prospero  we  see  Shake- 
speare at  the  height  of  his  powers,  his  life 
"  shipwrecked,"  yet  still  ruling  a  realm  of  fancy 
and  of  faery,  beside  which  the  kingdoms  of 
this  world  are  as  dust. 


101 


IV 
THE  SPIRIT  OF  SHAKESPEARE 

IN  discussing  Shakespeare  from  the  plain  man's 
point  of  view  it  must  not  be  thought  that 
scholarship  in  any  way  is  underrated.  At  the 
same  time  the  Stratford  movement,  though 
having  behind  it  the  steadying  power  of 
scholarship,  is  above  all  things  popular. 

Shakespeare  is  important  to  us  not  because 
he  was  a  unique  Englishman,  but  because  he 
is  the  typical  Englishman.  His  reverence  for 
custom  and  pomp,  his  talk  about  love  and 
wine,  the  fact  that  he  regarded  Falstaff  as 
funny  and  Hamlet  as  tragic — in  a  word,  his 
easy  acceptance  of  authority,  coupled  with 
occasional  outbursts  of  emotion,  are  English  to 
a  degree.  Take  Gonzalo  in  "The  Tempest." 
Has  not  Gonzalo  the  English  attitude  to 
Utopias  and  Socialism  ?  He  begins  with  a 
fine  scheme  and  then  is  gently  laughed  out  of 
it,  being  ruled  by  his  betters,  though  in  some 
little  danger  from  Caliban.  If  Shakespeare 
intended  this  play  to  be  his  vision  of  a  world 

102 


THE    SPIRIT   OF    SHAKESPEARE 

beautiful,  a  paradise  regained,  he  never  forgoes 
the  Englishman's  luxury  of  laughing  at  ideals. 
Shakespeare  then  is  the  reality  of  which  John 
Bull  was  but  a  caricature.  Only  once  have  I 
seen  a  typical  John  Bull.  It  was  in  the  lounge 
of  an  hotel.  A  thick-set,  honest,  rude,  and 
podgy  person  came  in,  stood  like  a  screen 
before  the  fire,  set  his  thumbs  firmly  in  the 
armholes  of  his  waistcoat,  and  gazed  round  at 
us  with  bovine  stolidity.  But,  when  he  spoke, 
it  was  not  to  assure  with  needless  reiteration 
that  he  would  "  never  be  a  slave."  He  said  a 
few  words  in  very  broken  English,  and  told  us 
that  he  was  a  Spaniard  on  his  first  visit  to  this 
country.  In  England  there  never  was,  nor 
ever  can  be,  that  strange  phantom,  that  over- 
solid  ghost  known  as  John  Bull.  I  labour  this 
point  because,  when  one  talks  of  a  national 
movement  in  art,  a  chorus  of  critical  ravens 
deplore  the  tendency,  believing  that  unless  the 
Briton  become  a  cosmopolitan  he  will  remain 
"  insular."  Shakespeare,  and  other  people  who 
live  on  islands,  develop  individualities.  Some 
day  we  may  come  across  the  John  Bull  of  our 
caricatures  without  having  to  go  to  Spain  for 
him. 

Mr.  Ernest  Newman,  one  of  our  best  musical 
critics,  challenged  his  opponents  in  the  Folk 

103 


THE   SHAK^PEARE    REVIVAL 

Movement  to  set  down  on  paper  a  description 
of  the  typical  Englishman.  Shakespeare  was 
too  clever  and  John  Bull  too  stupid  to  use 
as  an  illustration.  Mr.  Newman  being  the 
cleverest  of  the  anti-nationalists  I  gave  him 
a  definition  of  the  Englishman.  I  repeat  it 
here,  because  nothing  could  do  more  harm  to 
the  Stratford  Movement  than  to  convey  the 
idea  that  we  wish  to  foster  a  local  type.  The 
English  are  a  mixture  of  many  races,  pure  in 
one  respect.  We  are  Indo-Europeans,  and 
are  kindred  of  the  Celtic,  Teutonic,  and  Indian 
stock. 

Emerson  wrote  that  the  Englishman  was  the 
mud  of  all  the  races — that  is  to  say,  the  mixed 
soil  of  Europe,  piled  up  by  the  avalanche  of 
invasion,  silted  by  the  rivers  of  time.  To  this 
day,  the  fair  hair  and  blue  eyes  of  Scarborough 
and  Whitby  fishermen  make  one  remember  the 
Vikings.  Nor  need  I  remind  a  musical  critic 
that  the  word  Elgar  bespeaks  Norse  descent, 
and  that  in  the  music  of  Olaf  and  of  British 
Caractacus  that  blood  cries  aloud.  The  Nor- 
man invasion  did  not  dominate  the  English 
type,  but  was  absorbed.  Who  knows  whether 
the  entente  cordiale  did  not  begin  at  Senlac  ? 
And  not  only  have  armed  invaders  fought 
their  way  into  the  family  circle,  but  each 

104 


THE    SPIRIT   OF   SHAKESPEARE 

county  has  moulded  its  type  and  its  dialect, 
throwing  up  defences  against  the  common 
enemy,  Cosmopolitanism.  And  when  I  walk 
along  a  London  street,  seeing  Parsees,  Kaffirs, 
Frenchmen,  Jews,  Germans,  and  Spaniards, 
London  does  not  seem  less  English.  These 
barriers  of  race  are  everywhere  in  evidence. 
Each  face  flies  its  own  flag. 

Mr.  Newman  held  that  all  this  talk  about 
nationality  and  race  feeling  was  a  pose,  that 
Reason,  the  sharp-tongued  goddess,  had  broken 
down  these  sentimental  barriers.  When 
Shakespeare  drew  Shylock  he  showed  his  race 
feeling.  Though  Shylock  is  the  hero  of  the 
work,  no  Jew  would  have  pictured  him  as  did 
Shakespeare.  Though  I  have  several  good 
friends  among  the  Jews,  Reason  has  never 
shown  me  that  I  am  a  Jew.  But  when  Shake- 
speare created  Othello  it  was  a  very  different 
matter.  The  character  is  drawn  as  an  English- 
man, and  only  colour  marks  the  difference. 
The  cleverest  critic  cannot  acquit  Shakespeare 
of  the  natural  race  feelings  common  to  all  men. 

"  Reason  is  of  all  countries,"  says  La  Bruy£re. 
But  if  all  countries  were  one,  Reason  would 
have  less  opportunity  for  varied  development. 
True,  nations  depend  upon  each  other  for  new 
phases  of  thought  and  new  expressions  of  art. 

105 


THE    SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

We  love  Wagner  none  the  less  because  his  art 
sprang  from  the  soul  of  a  people  and  was  based 
on  folk-tales.  But  here  is  the  flaw:  "Our 
good  friends  the  nationalists  and  the  folk-song 
enthusiasts  always  seem  to  me  to  come  to  grief 
here.  Before  we  begin  to  found  a  '  national 
school/  let  us  at  least  agree  as  to  what  the 
national  characteristics  are."  The  critic  wants 
to  find  out  first,  by  reason  and  science,  what  is 
"  national."  The  answer  lies  on  our  breakfast 
tables,  in  the  form  of  eggs  and  bacon  or  news- 
papers. The  food  of  the  English,  French,  and 
German  replies  to  a  question  which  abstract 
reason  stammers  over.  The  fiction  of  England, 
like  our  drama,  cannot  be  mistaken.  At  the 
same  time  the  English  race  derives  from  so 
many  sources  that  it  is  difficult  to  find  half-a- 
dozen  main  characteristics.  Admittedly  we 
are  insular — some  one  said  that  the  Channel 
was  wider  than  the  Atlantic.  And  this  also 
is  true  of  the  North  Sea.  The  English  univer- 
sities, public  schools,  and  games  such  as  Rugby 
football,  are  distinctive.  The  independence 
that  will  not  bow  to  militarism,  and  the  public 
opinion  that  bars  the  way  to  revolution,  are  at 
once  English.  The  modesty  of  the  English- 
man, who  is  content  for  his  island  (or  rather 
peninsula)  to  be  a  centre  of  self-governing 

1 06 


THE   SPIRIT   OF   SHAKESPEARE 

colonies  rather  than  a  dominator  of  servile 
States,  is  remarkable,  especially  as  the  land 
was  once  a  Roman  colony. 

Defoe,    in    "  The    True-born    Englishman," 
says  the  last  word  on  the  fusion  of  the  race  : 

"  Fate  jumbled  them  together,  God  knows  how ; 
Whatever  they  were,  they're  true-born  English  now." 

This  glorious  two-edged  sword  of  a  poem 
accepts  the  Englishman  as  a  grotesque  reality. 
We  are  all  foreigners  very  much  at  home ; 
parvenus  whose  pride  is  our  race ;  insular  and 
world-wide ;  we  are  at  once  a  contradiction 
and  an  interrogation.  But  we  are  not  imagi- 
nary, though  passionate  lovers  of  the  past. 
There  seems  always  to  be  a  demand  for  popular 
versions  of  English  mythology.  Pageantry 
and  dancing  are  as  much  in  the  blood  as  in 
the  days  of  Shakespeare.  Of  this  Dr.  Charles 
Harris,  the  Canadian  conductor,  is  aware.  In 
his  Colonial  choral  tours,  whenever  he  wants 
to  impart  a  peculiarly  English  flavour,  these 
very  folk-songs  are  sung.  And  does  not 
Tennyson — surely  a  typical  English  poet — 
say,  <c  He  is  the  best  cosmopolite  who  loves 
his  native  country  best "  ?  The  impartial  man 
is  always  abroad  and  never  at  home. 

The    entire    significance   of    the    Stratford 
107 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Movement  lies  in  the  race  question.  If  we 
have  lost  our  national  individuality,  or  even 
are  suspected  of  having  lost  it,  our  power  of 
corporate  action  and  mutual  sympathy  are 
weakened.  We  should  be  like  men  who  were 
not  clear  as  to  their  own  individuality. 

Shakespeare  reflected  the  Elizabethan  age 
as  might  a  mirror.  He  is  the  banner-bearer 
round  whom  we  must  rally  if  anything  like 
the  Elizabethan  spirit  of  enterprise  and  self- 
preservation  are  to  be  regained.  The  tendency 
of  education  and  sentiment  in  the  past  has 
been  to  regard  Shakespeare  as  the  tailor's 
model  of  language  rather  than  of  character ; 
as  a  profound  philosopher,  who  used  poetry 
as  a  puzzle  ;  as  a  writer  whom  one  should  hold 
in  solemn  awe,  read  as  seldom  as  possible,  and 
whose  plays  are  to  be  watched  in  a  spirit  of 
solemn  admiration. 

We,  in  accepting  him  as  a  master,  the  master 
indeed  of  the  ceremonies  of  a  national  festival, 
place  his  art  upon  a  human  basis  : — 

He  was  an  Englishman  to  the  core, 
born  in  the  heart  of  England,  and  living 
in  the  hearts  of  Englishmen. 

As   author   of  the    Sonnets  he   is    re- 
vealed to  us  as  a  man  of  like  passions  with 
1 08 


THE    SPIRIT   OF   SHAKESPEARE 

ourselves,  purified  in  the  fire  of  experi- 
ence, rising  from  height  to  height  by  and 
through  his  dramas. 

Of  his  earlier  plays,  "  Much  Ado  About 
Nothing"  holds  the  stage  to-day  because  it 
was  the  work  of  a  man  who  had  loved  and 
suffered  in  youth,  till  by  reason  of  his  buoyant 
spirit  he  was  able  comically  to  view  love, 
giving  us  Beatrice  and  Benedick.  Those  two 
characters  are  clad  in  the  immortality  born  of  a 
comedy  that  can  laugh  at  love  without  banality. 

"  Measure  for  Measure "  wins  additional 
interest  owing  to  the  little  recognised  fact  that 
Richard  Wagner  used  it  as  the  poem  of  his 
early  opera  "  Liebesverbot." 

It  is  the  custom  to  smile  in  a  superior  way 
at  "  The  Two  Gentlemen  of  Verona,"  and  to 
regard  "Romeo  and  Juliet"  as  alternating 
between  sentiment  and  a  melancholy  passion 
that  leads  to  death.  And  in  these  two  Verona 
plays  we  are  able  to  rebut  the  anti-nationalists. 
The  Italians  themselves  do  not  regard  Shake- 
speare as  insular,  despite  the  anachronisms 
that  are  to  be  found  there.  The  city  of 
Verona  regards  the  Shakespearean  connection 
as  a  great  honour.  In  November  1910  a  bust 
was  set  up  there  in  honour  of  the  great  foreign 

109 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

dramatist.  They  honoured  him  as  we  regard 
Dante.  The  sculpture  is  the  work  of  Renato 
Cattani,  and  represents  the  tragic  Shakespeare 
standing  by  the  reputed  tomb  of  Juliet.  The 
Morning  Post  commenting  upon  this  said  some 
interesting  things  about  Italy  and  Italian  feeling 
as  they  differ  from  ours  : — 

"  Italian  sentiment  is  more  imaginative  than 
ours.  It  can  ignore  proprieties  of  fact  and 
date.  It  is  no  effort  for  the  Italian  mind  to 
assume  a  retrospective  attitude.  In  England 
it  is  different ;  we  are  learning  the  lesson,  as 
the  pageants  of  recent  years  witness ;  but 
Oxford  venerates  its  mythical  founder,  King 
Alfred,  with  less  grace  and  natural  acceptance 
of  the  improbable  than  Italy  displays  in 
honouring  the  legends  of  the  Capitol.  Not 
that  the  English  lack  imagination ;  but  the 
Italian  imagination  is  more  vivid,  and  its 
exercise  more  spontaneous.  Poetry,  though 
England  is  one  of  its  favourite  homes,  is 
treated  with  scanty  acknowledgment  by  our 
nation  ;  in  Italy  poetical  sentiment  is  honoured 
by  all ;  the  look  and  dress  of  the  people  in 
the  street  reveal  a  nation  which  is  conscious 
of  beauty  and  not  ashamed  of  it,  the  speech 
and  gesture  of  gondoliers  and  fruit-sellers  are 
poetical,  it  is  never  a  long  way  to  the  ideal. 

no 


THE    SPIRIT   OF   SHAKESPEARE 

"  There  is  no  limit  to  the  friendly  recogni- 
tion of  foreign  talent :  Byron,  Shelley,  the 
Brownings,  Winckelmann,  Ruskin,  have  been 
received  into  the  commonwealth  of  Italian 
letters ;  busts  and  inscribed  tablets  decorate 
the  houses  in  which  they  lodged  ;  there  is  a 
Piazza  at  Ravenna  named  after  Byron,  and 
his  sojourn  at  Venice,  Verona,  and  Pisa  is  a 
theme  of  never-failing  interest.  It  is  not  only 
that  they  were  welcomed  when  they  lived  in 
Italy,  but  their  memory  is  accepted  among 
Italian  memories.  We,  too,  are  hospitable 
to  strangers ;  but  we  show  more  honour  to 
patriots  than  to  poets,  being  more  interested 
in  politics  than  in  poetry.  Hospitality  is  an 
old  custom  in  Verona." 

And  it  is  this  spirit  of  an  Italy  beloved  by 
Shakespeare,  though  probably  never  visited 
by  him,  that  we  desire  to  equal  in  the  land 
of  his  birth.  When  we  remember  the  Medicis, 
the  wealth  won  on  the  Rialto,  turned  to  the 
service  of  beauty  and  to  the  glory  of  God, 
one  is  surprised  that  a  similar  awakening  of 
national  spirit  is  not  more  apparent  here,  for 
it  shines  only  rarely  in  the  persons  of  a  Charles 
Flower,  or  in  other  directions,  an  Andrew 
Carnegie. 

It  is  not  so  much  the  generous  spirit  of 
Ul 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

giving  as  the  absence  of  any  useful  direction 
for  artistic  expenditure  that  keeps  us  back. 

For  instance,  if  you  enter  the  Valhalla  of 
Saxon  heroes,  set  up  by  Ludwig  II.  near 
Ratisbon,  the  first  figure  that  meets  your  eye 
is  that  of  Alfred  the  Great.  Yet,  in  these 
days  of  National  Service  Leagues  and  Dread- 
noughts, he,  the  originator  of  modern  nation- 
alism, is  barely  remembered,  and  mostly  for  his 
lack  of  skill  as  a  toaster  of  cakes. 

And  it  is  precisely  this  traditional  spirit  for 
which  the  Stratford  Movement  stands,  and 
which  has  kept  it  alive  with  private  endow- 
ment, but  entirely  without  public  subsidy. 
From  an  educational  point  of  view  "  the 
abstract  chronicles  of  our  times,"  as  revealed 
in  the  pageants  and  historical  plays  of  Shake- 
speare, are  of  chief  importance. 

And  in  a  book  which  of  necessity  tries  to 
show  how  much  more  may  be  done  in  all 
sections  and  domains  of  art,  if  all  the  publics 
will  centralise  at  Stratford,  it  is  satisfactory 
that,  under  Mr.  Benson,  this  side  of  the  work 
has  been  carried  out  to  the  extreme  limit,  and 
with  complete  success.  The  following  plays 
of  this  class  have  been  produced  at  Stratford  : 
"King  John/'  "Richard  II.,11  "Henry  IV." 
(Parts  I.  and  II.),  "Henry  V.,"  "  Henry  VI." 

112 


Photo  by  Lang) 


MR.  LEWIS   WALLER    AS    ROMEO 


THE    SPIRIT   OF    SHAKESPEARE 

(Parts  I.,  II.,  and  III.),  and  -Richard  III." 
and  "Henry  VIII." 

Is  there  one  of  us,  from  the  most  superior 
critic  to  the  humble  author  of  these  words, 
who  would  not  have  a  clearer  vision  and  a 
brighter  fire  of  national  consciousness  for  this 
experience  ? 

And  when  Mr.  Benson  produced  them  as 
a  continuous  cycle,  the  panorama  of  genera- 
tions passed  before  one's  eyes  like  a  vivid 
dream. 

This  method  of  teaching  history  will  in  time 
lighten  the  labours  of  schoolmasters,  and  invest 
the  details  of  history  with  a  relevance  and 
force  unthinkable  without  the  vivid  spectacle 
of  actual  events. 

I  am  not  going  to  discuss  the  authorship 
of  "  Henry  VIII."  Whoever  wrote  it,  whether 
in  whole  or  part,  it  is  Shakespearean  drama, 
and  was  produced  a  few  years  after  the  King's 
death.  The  characters  were  as  near  to  the 
audience  as  are  Gladstone,  Beaconsfield,  and 
Parnell  to  us.  Even  in  the  legendary  plays, 
Shakespeare  depicted  men  and  women  of  his 
own  day,  even  when  the  scene  was  laid  in 
Bohemia. 

Then  we  have  the  Roman  plays,  "  Julius 
Caesar,"  "  Antony  and  Cleopatra/'  especially 

113  H 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

valuable  in  maintaining  a  balance,  and  pre- 
venting our  nationalism  from  degenerating  into 
insular  drama.  For  even  our  critics  contribute 
to  the  breadth  and  humanity  of  the  scheme. 

And  the  others  I  should  group  thus,  men- 
tioning nothing  that  has  not  been  played  at 
the  Memorial  Theatre  : — 

"Hamlet,"  "Othello,"  "Macbeth,"  and 
"  King  Lear,"  the  plays  of  the  soul, 
each  character  of  which  reveals,  as  it 
were,  a  possible  phase  or  tendency  of 
our  individual  characters. 

"A    Midsummer    Night's    Dream,"    "As 
You  Like  It,"  and  the  other  comedies. 

"The  Tempest,"  Shakespeare's  vision  of 
the  ideal  world,  peopled  by  human 
beings,  but  a  world  in  which  Caliban 
no  longer  has  the  mastery  as  he  has 
to-day  in  our  midst.  It  is  a  world 
ruled  by  Prospero,  an  Eden  in  which 
Ferdinand  and  Miranda  regain  para- 
dise for  us. 

These  plays  provide  an  atmosphere,  a  school 
of  beauty,  to  which  humanity  may  turn,  an 
element  in  which  the  soul  may  bathe  as  does 
the  body  in  the  veritable  sea, 

114 


THE    SPIRIT   OF   SHAKESPEARE 

It  remains  to  emphasise  one  point.  Shake- 
speare was  and  remains  a  contemporary 
dramatist. 

Looking  back  upon  Shakespeare,  we  are 
apt  to  say  that  he  deals  with  the  past. 
In  a  sense  this  is  true.  But  here  lies  the 
significance  of  Stratford.  A  certain  grandeur 
and  beauty,  a  splendour  and  large  freedom, 
have  gone  from  us.  An  age  of  innovation, 
prosperity,  and  Empire  has  swept  us  along  till 
even  the  poet  of  Imperial  expansion  has  warned 
us,  "  Lest  we  forget." 

And  now,  when  there  are  undoubted  signs 
that  all  is  not  well,  when  plutocracy,  and  to 
a  great  extent  alien  wealth,  has  to  a  large 
degree  supplanted  our  aristocracy,  while 
democracy  has  not  yet  learned  its  enormous 
responsibility,  faith  and  tradition  must  speak 
in  the  authentic  voice  of  an  England  that  was 
great,  and  must  sound  their  clarion  call  to  the 
ends  of  the  earth,  wherever  the  language  of 
Shakespeare  and  the  bonds  of  race  are  ready 
to  respond. 

I  have  heard  people  say  that  we  must  get 
away  from  the  past,  and  build  up  a  drama  of 
to-day.  If  we  cast  away  the  Elizabethan  ruff 
for  the  high  collar  we  lose  little.  But  what 
sort  of  civilisation  are  we  to  portray  ? 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

If  we  place  upon  the  stage  modern  reality, 
what  sort  of  picture  will  it  make  ? 

In  a  hundred  years  our  successors  may  have 
a  different  answer.  The  honest  answer  now  is 
that  we  have  lost  much,  and  that  were  the 
days  of  Elizabeth  to  come  again  we  should  be 
the  gainers. 

Stratford  is  not  building  upon  unholy  founda- 
tions a  fool's  paradise,  but  awaking  traditions, 
clothed  in  the  warm  flesh  of  a  living  and 
throbbing  actuality. 

Modern  drama  gives  us  few  pictures  that 
are  either  sane  or  splendid,  whatever  their  age 
or  period.  It  is,  as  a  rule,  artificial  and 
"  romantic,"  concerned  with  the  more  or  less 
exciting  episodes  in  the  lives  of  puppets,  in 
whose  existence  we  do  not  for  a  moment 
believe.  "  The  Merry  Wives  of  Windsor"  is 
a  fair  picture  of  what  England  was  and  might 
well  become  again  without  deterioration. 

Show  me  a  similar  comedy  in  contemporary 
drama. 

Where  the  Elizabethans  had  "As  You  Like 
It"  we  must  put  up  with  German  musical 
comedies,  or  French  farces,  mutilated  and 
adapted  till  they  have  lost  even  the  original 
raciness  that  made  them  palatable  to  "  flaneurs  " 
abroad. 

116 


THE    SPIRIT    OF   SHAKESPEARE 

Where  they  had  the  tragedy  of  "  Macbeth  " 
we  have  melodramas,  which  carry  but  a  faint 
echo  of  real  horror,  and  fail  to  approach  to  the 
humanity  of  great  tragic  art. 

I  mention  no  names  because  there  would  be 
no  point  in  censuring  plays  that  are  here  to-day 
and  gone  to-morrow.  The  works  which  were 
in  my  mind  in  writing  this  will  be  forgotten 
before  the  printer's  proofs  are  corrected,  but 
new  examples  will  bear  me  out. 

On  the  other  hand,  I  see  no  incongruity 
in  mentioning  Galsworthy's  "  Justice"  in  the 
same  sentence  as  "  Macbeth."  The  one  deals 
with  ambition  and  pride,  the  other  with  failure 
and  disgrace. 

And,  just  as  Shakespeare's  play  must  have 
gone  to  the  hearts  of  many  in  an  age  of  bound- 
less ambition  and  energy,  so  "  Justice,"  with  its 
picture  of  a  blind  vengeance,  strikes  compassion 
into  the  hearts  of  those  who  view  the  hopeless, 
aimless  struggle  for  life  in  the  cities  of  to-day. 
Both  artists  wrote  the  work  in  obedience  to 
their  own  need  for  creative  expression,  leaving 
action  to  the  world  of  action. 

With  so  matter  of  fact  a  people  as  ours 
there  is  no  need  to  insist  upon  the  obvious. 
Our  natural  instinct  to  take  pleasures  seriously 
provides  the  popular  dramatist  with  a  peculiarly 

117 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

receptive  audience.  And  I  hope  the  time  will 
never  come  for  the  Memorial  Theatre  to  open 
its  doors  to  an  art  that  deals  with  problems  in 
a  peddling  fashion.  The  self-conscious  play- 
wright should  be  excluded. 

Apparently  the  cities  cannot  detect  the  flimsy 
in  art,  but  only  life  and  beauty  can  live  in  the 
Festival  town  on  the  Avon. 

Rather  than  tread  the  debateable  ground  of 
individual  reputations,  let  us  dream  of  the  ideal 
theatre,  with  the  actual  achievement  of  Strat- 
ford in  our  minds. 

We  have  shown  what  Stratford  has  done, 
and  have  considered  the  spirit  of  Shakespeare, 
apart  from  the  actual  work  of  his  hands. 

It  now  remains  to  leave  the  tilled  field  and 
to  look  upon  the  prairie,  for  there  is  no  limit 
to  the  possibilities  of  development. 

To-day  the  Memorial  Theatre  is  more  alive 
than  ever,  but  in  time  it  might  fossilise.  Yet 
if  it  became  formal,  ceasing  to  develop  and 
refusing  re-birth,  surely  the  waters  of  the  Avon 
would  turn  into  lead,  and  Shakespeare's  birth- 
place mark  the  burial  of  his  ideals  and  our  own. 


118 


A  TEMPLE  OF  DREAMS  :  A  PERSONAL  REVERIE 

THIS  book  has  been  to  such  an  extent  an 
arrangement  of  various  developments  in  folk- 
art  that  one  cannot  exactly  get  the  perspective. 
Suppose,  for  instance,  that  in  the  process  of 
time  it  was  found  possible  to  build  at  Stratford 
a  great  Cathedral  of  the  Arts,  what  would  it  be 
like  ? 

Two  things  are  necessary  for  its  accomplish- 
ment : 

A  new  conception  of  the  theatre. 

A  clear  idea  of  the  kind  of  work  that  would 
constitute  a  National  Festival. 

Within  sight  of  the  City  of  Dreams,  fronting 
with  its  terraces  a  broad  and  ever-flowing  river, 
stands  the  Dream  Theatre.  As  yet  it  is 
built  only  within  the  hearts  of  a  few,  though 
its  foundations  lie  deep  in  human  conscious- 
ness. "  Whether  at  Naishapur  or  Babylon," 
on  the  banks  of  the  Hudson  or  Avon,  what 
matter !  It  is  a  National  Theatre,  not  by  official 

119 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

control,  but  by  its  essential  character.  For  it 
will  present  on  the  stage  the  people's  past,  so 
that,  kindled  by  legendary  glories,  hopes  may 
beat  higher  and  horizons  expand.  Standing 
back  somewhat  from  the  river,  its  frontage 
suggests  a  Greek  temple,  but  the  shape  is 
unusual.  Rising  as  it  is  carried  back,  the 
roof  curves  like  a  wave  to  another  climax, 
whence  it  falls  to  the  rear,  which  is  sym- 
metrical in  design.  Its  very  shape  suggests 
the  on-coming  tide  of  the  human  spirit. 

Nor  is  it  the  result  of  caprice,  but  is  forced 
upon  the  dream-architect  by  the  need  of  stage 
room.  In  order  to  change  the  scenes  properly 
there  must  be  as  much  room  above  and  below 
the  stage  as  there  is  between  stage  level  and 
the  top  of  the  proscenium  arch.  There  must 
not  only  be  space  for  artists  and  stage  hands, 
but  for  scenery  and  machines  of  elaborate 
character,  and  a  revolving  stage. 

In  this  respect  as  in  others  the  theatre  is 
modelled  upon  that  at  Bayreuth.  But  it  is  not 
of  mere  brick  and  wood,  nor,  indeed,  so  costly 
as  the  Prinz  Regenten  Theatre  at  Munich.  Yet 
time  and  reflection  have  enabled  the  dream- 
architect  to  evolve  several  ideas  which  add  to 
the  beauty  and  reduce  the  cost  of  the  work. 
The  shape  of  the  auditorium  is  that  of  an 

1 20 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

amphitheatre,  broadening  as  the  seats  rise, 
tier  above  tier,  so  that  each  of  the  fifteen 
hundred  auditors  is  focussed  upon  the  stage. 

The  orchestra  is  hidden  from  view,  and  is  so 
placed  that  the  sound  goes  straight  to  the  audi- 
ence rather  than  rising  up  like  a  fog  of  sound. 
And  not  only  is  it  designed  for  a  full  orchestra, 
but  contains  specially  arranged  seats  for  a 
hidden  chorus,  for  reasons  that  will  follow, 
when  we  discuss  the  nature  of  national  art. 

The  seats  are  comfortable,  and  the  colouring 
of  the  simple  decorations  is  quiet  and  restful. 
The  whole  aim  is  to  provide  a  means  of  hearing 
and  beholding.  I  see  it  clearly  enough  to  notice 
that  the  theatre  is  the  central  figure  in  a  garden, 
with  restaurants  that  suggest  quiet,  intimate 
little  dinners  between  the  acts,  rather  than  the 
rush  and  scramble  of  a  theatre  supper  in  town. 
One  minute  before  the  acts  begin  a  fanfare  is 
blown  on  trumpets.  The  lights  are  lowered, 
and  then  extinguished.  The  doors  are  closed, 
and  the  audience  waits  in  primal  darkness  for 
— what  ? 

In  that  question  lies  the  entire  failure  of  the 
art  of  the  theatre.  Given  the  most  ideal  condi- 
tions, a  perfect  theatre  in  a  pleasant  place,  en- 
dowed by  all  the  millionaires  and  attended  by 
the  entire  democracy,  without  a  conception  of 

121 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

national  needs,  of  normal  dramatic  hunger,  the 
whole  thing  is  a  work  of  darkness. 

A  programme  can  only  be  arranged  by  con- 
sidering man's  needs,  and  how  they  are  supplied 
by  our  modern  or  ancient  art. 

If  the  needs  of  the  people  call  for  a  new 
revelation  of  the  spirit  of  man  or  God,  it  will 
be  given. 

First  let  us  see  what  we  hold  in  store. 

The  first  aim  of  travel,  the  great  result  of 
experience,  is  to  know  men  of  all  kinds.  There- 
fore to  ask  for  the  works  of  Shakespeare  would 
seem  a  sound  basis  of  any  national  repertory. 

Apart  from  the  universal  human  feeling  of 
Shakespeare,  and  his  minute  characterisation, 
another  kind  of  appeal  needs  satisfaction.  The 
broad  instinct  of  sex  is  so  dominant  that 
many  a  play  is  based  upon  some  suggestive 
presentation  of  it.  The  flippant  nastiness  that 
passes  the  censor  combines  with  the  feather- 
headed  drawing-room  play  in  spreading  senti- 
mental or  unhealthy  ideas.  The  actual  passion 
cannot  be  presented  in  words.  And  it  is  not 
good  for  people  to  meet  the  God  Eros  unaware. 
An  experience  of  sexual  passion,  a  trial  spin  of 
the  emotions,  is  possible  through  Wagner's 
41  Tristan  and  Isolde."  Both  in  origin  and 
conception  this  work  is  British.  And  if  we  go 

122 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

to  the  roots  of  the  legend  we  find  that  Wagner 
did  not  invent  its  modernity.  The  essential 
idea  of  our  legend  is  the  lordship  of  Love,  a 
tyrant  scheming  always  for  the  future,  brushing 
aside  human  obstacles,  and  using  man  and  his 
desires  like  the  Immanent  Will  of  Mr.  Hardy's 
"  Dynasts."  The  work  which  happens  to  be 
the  crowning  glory  of  Wagner  shows  us  the 
fiery  glow  of  sunset,  deepening  to  night,  the 
merging  of  Love  in  Death.  Beginning  with 
physical  passion  as  expressed  in  the  music  of 
the  prelude,  every  fibre  of  the  soul  is  quickened 
by  the  combined  arts  of  Music  and  Philo- 
sophy. This  is  indeed  Aristotle's  purification 
by  pity. 

In  the  same  way  Wagner's  "  Parsifal"  tells 
the  divine  story  of  Youth  becoming  wise 
through  gradually  unfolding  knowledge,  and 
the  growth  of  human  sympathy. 

The  mystery  of  sex,  and  the  idea  of 
Divine  Love  as  revealed  in  Wagner's  "  Par- 
sifal," are  surely  part  of  an  orderly  and  in- 
clusive scheme.  Recent  operatic  experiences 
preclude  the  criticism  that  such  works  could 
not  be  done.  But  they  would  be  treated  as 
festival  days  of  a  Nationalist  Religion  rather 
than  as  after-dinner  spectacles  for  a  fashionable 
mob.  The  probability  is  that  the  same  artists 

123 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

and  the  existing  orchestras  would  excel  them- 
selves under  new  conditions.  The  new  trans- 
lations of  the  Wagnerian  dramas,  which  permit 
of  the  baton  falling  on  the  important  syllables, 
make  it  easy  to  hear  the  English  words. 

The  function  of  the  theatre  does  not  stop  at 
the  qualities  we  have  mentioned  : — 

A  wide  sweep  of  life  in  the  works  of 
Shakespeare. 

The  qualities  of  sympathy  and  the  passion 
of  sex,  through  Wagner. 

The  other  classes  may,  however,  be  set  out 
very  easily.  In  fact  a  summary  would  well 
nigh  explain  them  : — 

(a)  The  dramas  of  Shakespeare  and  Wagner, 
alternating  and  supplementing  each  other,  pro- 
duced by  existing  organisations  under  the 
direction  of  the  Governors. 

(6)  Modern  dramas  of  the  kind  suggested  by 
the  names  of  Yeats,  Shaw,  Galsworthy,  and 
other  distinctive  creators. 

(c]  The    Greek    dramatists    (as    translated 
by  Gilbert    Murray,   with  music  by  Granville 
Bantock). 

(d]  The    performance   in   connection   with 
each  Festival  of  morris  dances,  folk-songs,  and 
English  games. 

(e]  To  bring  down  the  best  Choral  Societies 

124 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

to  perform  works  of  national  importance,  such 
as  "Gerontius,"  "  Midnight,"  and  "  The  Sun 
God's  Return." 

(/)  To  foster  the  local  singing  of  folk-song, 
choral  and  solo,  and  to  encourage  the  people 
of  the  place  to  produce  their  own  plays  and 
pageants  representing  their  own  history,  ideals, 
and  jokes. 

(g]  To  further  include  all  art-work  in  the 
form  of  drama,  dance,  or  song,  provided  they 
be  vital  and  interesting. 

(A)  To  accept  and  encourage  the  co-opera- 
tion of  all  existing  bodies,  subject  only  to  a 
general  control  of  policy  by  the  Governors. 

So  far  we  have  been  concerned  with  an 
imaginary  theatre.  But  we  have  shown  that, 
by  ignoring  distinctions  and  varieties,  a  general 
body  of  work  exists  that  would  cover  a  wide 
range  of  human  activity  and  interest.  Not 
only  would  all  these  plays  and  choral  works 
be  produced,  but  a  course  of  truly  national 
festivity  would  reign.  Old  harvest  customs, 
many  of  the  folk-pleasures  of  pre-puritan  times, 
would  return.  With  the  exception  of  bear- 
baiting,  the  jolly  Middle  Ages  would  awake  to 
the  merrymaking  of  modernity. 

Stratford  is  an  ideal  base  for  these  operations, 
and  already  the  material  and  organisation  exist. 

125 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

The  idea  of  such  a  theatre  on  the  banks 
of  the  Hudson  was  formulated  by  Madame 
Nordica  some  time  ago.  But  Music  was  to 
be  supreme.  The  London  National  Theatre 
project  at  present  goes  to  the  other  extreme. 
In  the  book  of  plans  Music  shares  a  chapter 
with  Refreshments.  No  doubt  Wagner  would 
figure  on  the  wine-list,  among  the  hocks ;  and 
Elgar  represent  Hereford  cider. 

But  at  the  Shakespeare  Memorial  Theatre, 
Stratford-upon-Avon,  the  only  endowed  theatre 
in  England,  despite  the  handicap  of  a  small 
building,  the  main  lines  of  this  dream-theatre 
are  being  carried  out.  In  addition  to  Shake- 
speare, and  dramatic  works  old  and  new,  folk- 
song and  old  English  dances  are  among  the 
festivities. 

These  forms  of  art  appeal  to  the  race.  And 
when  I  write  of  Anglo-Celtic  feeling  I  include 
America,  believing  that,  as  in  Shakespeare's 
day,  we  are  one  people,  and  that  our  common 
heritage  of  folk-art  would  bridge  over  the  in- 
evitable superficial  differences  that  have  arisen. 
In  England  or  America,  through  Shakespeare, 
this  dream  will  come  true. 

And  if  the  reader  will  turn  to  the  summary 
of  the  proposed  repertory  it  will  be  seen  that 
all  the  varieties  set  down  are  popular  and 

126 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

successful  in  their  several  ways,  though  never 
have  all  these  forms  been  brought  together  in 
one  scheme. 

So  far  do  I  regard  the  communal  nature  of 
the  undertaking  as  important,  that  not  only 
should  the  performances  be  part  of  an  Annual 
Festival,  but  those  working  for  the  theatre 
should  be  united  by  a  common  bond.  In 
connection  with  the  theatre  would  be  a  handi- 
craft guild  and  a  farm  colony,  so  that  the 
artists  and  stage-hands  might,  as  far  as  feasible, 
live  a  healthy  outdoor  life.  Of  course  in  the 
case  of  special  actors,  orchestral  players,  and 
the  few  necessary  specialists,  this  could  not  be 
managed.  Isolde  could  not  be  expected  to 
hoe,  nor  Ophelia  to  weed.  But  the  over- 
specialisation  of  the  artist  is  one  of  the  crimes 
of  the  commercial  theatre,  a  thing  unheard 
of  in  Greece,  and  only  deemed  essential  in 
degenerate  times.  The  stagnant  life  of  the 
agriculturist  has  its  counterpart  in  the  neo- 
monastic  condition  of  the  actor's  craft. 

This  reminds  one  that  England's  healthiest 
art  is  that  of  the  Choral  North,  where  men 
and  women  sing  for  the  love  of  the  work,  and 
find  that  it  helps  rather  than  hinders  their  daily 
labours.  And  it  would  seem  that,  if  a  popular 
national  drama  is  to  arise,  peculiarly  expressive 

127 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

of  our  own  life  in  the  legends  of  our  country, 
the  voice  of  the  people  must  be  heard  in  a 
literal  sense.  And  that  is  why,  in  my  imagi- 
nary orchestra  pit,  I  left  places  for  the  singers. 

Just  as  in  the  Greek  dramas  the  Chorus 
represents  the  Mass,  and  in  the  same  way 
that  Wagner's  orchestra  comments  upon  the 
action  through  music,  we  must  incorporate  the 
chorus  of  oratorio  with  the  opera  in  the  drama 
of  the  future.  How  much  better  would  it  have 
been  if  the  Prelude  to  Tristan  and  Isolde 
actually  sang  to  us  the  nature  of  love,  rather 
than  leaving  it  to  the  unaided  orchestra.  For 
the  ordinary  man  does  not  understand  Wagner 
without  explanation. 

The  subject  matter  of  such  choral  dramas 
naturally  would  be  Anglo-Celtic.  Wagner 
sought  his  material  in  the  quarry  of  the 
Nibelungenlied,  and  put  into  his  presentment 
his  own  personal  political  opinions  quite  as 
caustically  as  does  Mr.  Shaw.  The  difference 
lies  in  the  fact  that  Wagner  was  in  love  with 
beauty,  while  Mr.  Shaw,  being  a  puritan,  puts 
duty  before  dreams.  The  same  idea  obsessed 
Oscar  Wilde.  He  was  so  ardent  a  sociologist 
that  he  made  a  point  of  "not  talking  shop," 
which  accounts  for  "  The  Importance  of  Being 
Earnest."  Wagner,  having  genius  instead  of 

128 


Photo  by  L.  Casvuall  Smith 

MISS  CONSTANCE  COLLIER   AS  JULIET 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

manners,  writes  his  "  Ring,"  with  Siegfried  the 
Superman,  Brunnhilde  the  suffragette,  Alberich 
the  millionaire,  and  Mrs.  Grundy  in  the  person 
of  Fricka.  Already  Lord  Howard  de  Walden 
and  Mr.  Holbrooke  have  written  and  composed 
a  choral  drama  based  on  a  tale  in  the  Mabin- 
ogion.  While,  as  long  ago  as  November  1908, 
the  Leeds  Symphony  Orchestra  performed  an 
excerpt  from  another  by  Mr.  Rutland  Boughton 
and  myself,  dealing  with  the  birth  of  Arthur. 
For  Arthur  seems  to  us  typical  of  the  Super- 
man that  we  need,  a  son  of  human  and  spiritual 
passion,  born  of  the  primal  longing  of  Uther, 
and  the  beauty  and  yearning  of  Igraine,  the 
free  and  unfettered  woman,  for  whom  the  age 
cries  without  ceasing.  Mr.  Hadley's  Arthurian 
works  prove  him  to  be  artistically  our  brother, 
an  American  knight  of  the  Table  Round. 
And  when  composers  and  poets  unite  to  clothe 
the  thoughts  of  to-day  in  the  beauty  of  the 
past,  the  gropings  of  science  and  the  dreams 
of  philosophers  will  become  vocal.  No  longer 
will  wisdom  be  the  secret  possession  of  the 
sage,  but,  clad  in  loveliness,  its  expression  will 
be  the  joyful  religion  of  the  folk.  And  the 
choral  form,  united  with  the  dramatic,  enables 
the  orchestral  chorus  to  speak  out  with  the 
tones  of  a  giant  whatever  prophetic  message 

129  I 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

or  commentary  upon  the  action  be  called  forth 
by  necessity.  Modern  opera  is  the  plaything 
of  fools.  If  we  turn  to  oratorio  we  find  its 
more  recent  developments  entirely  hopeful. 
But  it  cannot  be  national  and  in  the  broad 
sense  popular  so  long  as  the  Angel  in  Elgar' s 
"  Gerontius  "  wears  the  dress  of  the  ball-room, 
and  bows  to  the  audience  like  a  ballad  singer. 
And  he  who  has  met  Nietszche's  "  Zarathus- 
tra"  in  evening  dress  upon  the  concert  plat- 
form must,  in  Nietzschean  phrase,  "hold  his 
nose." 

Of  course  these  works  of  Delius  and  Elgar 
are  not  choral  dramas,  but  at  the  Dream 
Theatre,  with  hidden  chorus  and  orchestra, 
and  suitably  gowned  principals  on  a  twilight 
stage,  the  Christianity  of  Elgar  and  the  Nietz- 
scheanity  of  Delius,  or  the  Omarian  philosophy 
of  Granville  Bantock,  would  be  freed  from  the 
absurdity  of  concert-platform  treatment. 

Then  again  there  are  the  old  folk-plays ; 
"  Everyman  "  ;  the  works  of  the  Chester  and 
Coventry  Cycles ;  which  always  were  and  will 
be  popular,  yet  have  nothing  in  common  with 
the  theatre  as  we  know  it. 

I  have  found  great,  but  unhappily  solitary 
pleasure,  in  reading  the  Wakefield  Cycle, 
especially  the  Second  Nativity  Play  of  the 

130 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

Shepherds.  But  these,  with  their  holy  com- 
pounds of  buffoonery  and  mystery,  are  not 
for  individuals  but  for  crowds.  In  fact  the 
idea  of  "  Home  Counties,"  in  The  World's 
Work  for  September  (1910),  for  an  open- 
air  theatre,  would  at  least  give  us  these  plays 
again,  though  music-drama  could  not  live  out 
of  doors. 

At  the  risk  of  repetition,  but  for  the  sake 
of  clearness,  I  will  set  down  a  typical  pro- 
gramme, reminding  the  reader  that  not  a  single 
feature  of  this  Dream  Theatre  scheme  is 
original  except  the  conception  of  a  unity  of 
the  Arts,  as  the  basis  of  a  popular  national 
folk  worship,  in  place  of  the  flounderings  of 
the  modern  theatre,  both  in  deep  and  shallow 
waters.  Each  type  and  variety  of  the  following 
productions  have  been  successful  in  their  own 
areas : — 

A  WEEK'S  WORK  AT  THE  TEMPLE 
OF  DREAMS 

(The  Festival  to  be  under  the  control  of  the  Dream 
Theatre  Governors,  the  main  tendency  being  to  centralise 
Anglo-Saxon  Art  around  the  personality  of  Shakespeare,  by 
means  of  his  works,  and  to  produce  other  works  akin  to 
them  in  folk-spirit.) 

COMEDY   DAY. — Revels,    Dancing,   and    Singing    Games, 
followed  by  "  As  You  Like  It." 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

CHORAL  DAY. — "Thus  Spake  Zarathustra."     Delius. 

Choral  Variations  of  National  Folk-Songs.     (  Various?) 

"  The  Dream  of  Gerontius."     Elgar. 

"Death  and  Transfiguration,"  Tone  Poem.     Strauss. 

Music  DRAMA. — "Tristan  and  Isolde."     Wagner. 
(Orchestra  and  company  from  the  capital.) 

GREEK  PLAY.— "  Orestes,"  "CEdipus,"  or  "  Hippolytus." 
(Produced  with   music,   in   English,    by   the   Shake- 
spearean Company.) 

MODERN  COMEDY. — Social  satire,  Irish  folk-plays,  or  pan- 
tomime. 

TRAGEDY  DAY. — A  special  production,  with  new  music  and 
full  orchestra,  of  "  Hamlet,"  "  Othello,"  or  "  Macbeth." 

LOCAL  REVELS. — Dancing  and  Song  by  people  of  the 
place,  and,  if  possible,  an  original  local  play,  or  a 
burlesque  presentation  of  the  Temple  Ideals.  This  is 
an  annual  feature  in  the  life  of  the  Garden  City  at 
Letchworth. 

CHORAL  DRAMA. — Anglo- Celtic  Legendary  work,  with 
orchestra,  and  provincial  Festival  Chorus. 

CLOSING  DAY. — Pageant  and  Procession,  followed  by  a 
performance  of  "  The  Tempest." 

The  last  day  I  would  devote  to  the  pro- 
duction of  a  mediaeval  play  from  one  of  the 
old  Cycles,  on  an  open-air  stage,  exactly  as  in 
the  old  days.  So  far  as  could  be  managed, 
the  whole  town  would  be  in  costume,  and  the 
play  would  be  followed  by  an  old  English 
carnival  and  a  river  f£te. 

132 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

A  programme  of  this  nature  would  be 
varied  and  elaborated  as  time  went  on.  In 
detail  it  is  assailable,  but  each  form  of  popular 
art  has  its  place. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  of  the  value  of  such 
an  environment,  even  for  a  few  days.  The 
modern  city  would  be  dingy  to  eyes  that  had 
been  fed  upon  the  dreams  and  laughter,  the 
beauty  and  wisdom  of  such  a  modern  Camelot. 
The  spirit  of  the  Table  Round  would  fill  this 
tourney  of  the  arts.  And,  like  Arthur's 
knights,  men  would  set  out  thence  in  quest  of 
the  Graal.  For  the  Graal  of  the  Modern 
surely  is  the  light  that  banishes  ugliness,  which 
alone  is  evil. 

If  our  cities  were  made  beautiful,  if  Apollo 
slew  Mammon,  the  wealth  of  the  world  would 
for  its  own  sake  sweep  away  the  suffering  and 
the  stupidity  from  which  our  civilisation  de- 
rives its  woes.  Just  as  the  cruder  forms  of 
Christianity  taught  men  to  suffer,  so  the  living 
Art  and  the  living  Christ  warn  him  that  the 
cup  is  ready  and  the  vine  is  ripe.  In  the 
spread  of  a  glorious  dissatisfaction  the  artist 
is  the  torch-bearer.  But  he  is  alone,  and  only 
when  the  nation,  the  wider  family  circle  of 
to-morrow,  meets  together  to  behold  and  to 
enjoy  in  community,  is  art  of  any  use.  And 

133 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

lest  this  theatre  become  a  shadow  show,  it  is 
necessary  to  link  it  with  a  living  body  of  men, 
as  an  integral  part  of  their  township. 

Its  realisation  depends  upon  co-operation 
between  those  who  see  kinship  between  handi- 
craft, healthy  outdoor  life  and  agriculture,  and 
the  Arts.  Do  not  Wagner,  Whitman,  Millet, 
Morris,  and  G.  F.  Watts  prove  the  kinship? 
Even  those  who  wish  Art  to  educate  or 
teach,  in  a  literal  sense,  are  feeling  after  the 
same  idea. 

Art,  like  any  other  form  of  religion,  is  an 
expression  of  truth,  not  a  form  of  propaganda. 
And  to  express  a  true  life  we  must  create  an 
environment.  When  a  town  has  been  evolved, 
which  is  the  very  centre  of  everything  Anglo- 
Celtic,  when  the  physical  and  spiritual  culture 
of  the  nation  looks  to  it  as  a  place  of  health 
and  good  life,  there  will  be  something  to  show 
for  the  theatre  as  the  rallying  point,  as  the 
Cathedral  of  Beauty.  Being  a  privately  en- 
dowed enterprise,  to  a  great  degree  supported 
by  the  public,  it  will  not  languish  upon  a  sub- 
sidy nor  strive  to  please  a  rabble.  To  attract 
the  people  it  must,  at  the  lowest  possible  cost, 
bring  together  all  classes  and  conditions  for 
the  double  purpose  of  healthy  holiday  and  new 
surroundings. 

134 


A   TEMPLE    OF    DREAMS 

The  Temple  Theatre  as  I  see  it  is  near 
the  City  of  Dreams,  which  waits  always  for 
destiny.  It  is  not  too  near  the  busy  haunts 
of  men.  Only  those  to  whom  the  Festival 
Spirit  calls  will  trouble  to  come.  Away  from 
the  bustle  it  stands  where  mediaeval  memory 
clings,  watered  by  pure  raindrops  from  the 
clearing  skies  of  our  own  day. 

It  is  surrounded  by  trees,  with  its  houses 
and  workshops,  and  its  agricultural  belt.  The 
fanfare  has  sounded,  and  the  audience  enters 
the  building  as  the  sun  in  loving  strength  burns 
its  roof  to  fiery  bronze.  For  therein  glow 
the  hearts  of  men,  quickened  by  "  the  emotion 
of  multitude." 

And,  after  it  is  all  over,  can  you  not  see  the 
loungers  on  the  landing-stage,  watching  the 
launches  float  down  the  river  to  the  town,  as 
the  moonlight  shimmers  over  the  calm  that 
follows  great  emotion  ? 

Or,  better  still,  can  you  not  hear  the  shrill 
whistle  of  an  engine  that  is  to  take  back  to 
their  labour  a  thousand  toilers,  who,  having 
followed  a  local  chorus  to  the  Dream  Temple, 
will  have  heard  also  the  glory  that  was  Greece, 
and  the  freedom  that  fires  the  soul  of  a 
people  ? 


135 


VI 

WAGNER   AND   HIS   RELATION   TO 
SHAKESPEARE 

HAVING  pictured  our  ideal  theatre,  and  seen 
the  analogy  that  exists  respecting  our  own 
national  spirit  and  that  of  the  Greeks,  we  may 
now  bind  our  ideas  together  by  considering 
Wagner  as  growing  out  of  Shakespeare  on  the 
one  hand  and  the  dramatists  of  Athens  on  the 
other. 

Shakespeare,  in  Meredith's  phrase,  was 
"  broad  as  ten  thousand  beeves  at  pasture." 
Wagner  was  narrow.  His  was  the  art  of 
concentration,  of  unity  burning  to  a  point  of 
fire  to  kindle  emotion. 

In  "  Art  and  Revolution,"  one  of  his  finest 
essays,  he  says  that  "we  cannot  make  one 
step  forward  without  being  brought  face  to 
face  with  its  connection  with  the  Art  of  ancient 
Greece." 

And  he  sums  up  the  Greek  people  under 
the  symbol  of  Apollo,  "with  all  the  traits  of 

136 


WAGNER   AND    SHAKESPEARE 

energetic  earnestness,  beautiful  and  strong." 
It  was  thus,  he  says,  that  Aeschylus  knew 
him.  And  when  the  tragic  poet  awakened 
Apollo  to  speech,  that  is  to  say,  when  all 
that  was  noble  in  the  various  arts  was  drawn 
together  in  the  composite  art  of  drama,  man 
might  at  last  see  himself,  in  all  laughter  and 
suffering,  beneath  the  chastening  anguish  of 
Oedipus,  in  the  divine  sacrifice  of  Iphigenia, 
in  the  agony  of  Antigone,  or  under  the  lash 
of  Aristophanes.  Life  became  vocal  and 
visible  to  him.  His  public  re-creation,  his 
religion,  and  his  philosophy  bore  the  mark 
of  manhood. 

But  he  knew  also  that  man  in  his  degra- 
dation, amid  the  sorrows  that  a  complex 
civilisation  had  laid  upon  him,  had  cast  off 
the  pride  of  manly  strength.  His  religion 
was  no  longer  even  an  echo  of  that  strong 
Voice  which  came  "not  to  bring  peace  but 
a  sword,"  and  bore  small  likeness  to  the  Healer 
and  Comforter  of  mankind,  but  carried  itself 
meekly  amid  tyrannies,  and  was  used  by  the 
rich  to  keep  the  poor  in  their  places.  In  fact 
the  poison  of  oligarchy  had  eaten  away  the 
Christian  spirit  of  community.  Yet  beside  all 
this  was  a  changed  world.  The  true  Christian 
ideal  was  not  alien  to  the  Greek.  For  while 

137 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Athens  knew  the  curse  of  slavery,  and  had 
shed  the  petals  of  her  roseate  glory  in  the 
sunset  that  was  destruction,  the  armour  of 
the  Christian  was  but  rusty  through  misuse, 
and  cheapened  to  some  extent  by  the  mean 
spirit  of  the  times.  Therefore  Wagner  saw  that 
in  Hellenism  lay  the  hope  of  his  generation. 

Therefore  in  Wagner's  dramas  we  find  from 
"  Tannhauser  "  to  "  Parsifal  "  the  pure  doctrines 
of  Christ,  in  the  "  Ring  of  the  Nibelungs"  the 
spirit  of  Apollo,  and  in  "The  Meistersingers " 
the  united  strength  of  golden  Hellenism  and 
ruddy  mediaeval  faith,  and  the  folk. 

Wagner  held  that  Art  must  be  at  once 
a  religion  and  a  re-creation.  From  the  first 
his  aims  were  conscious,  while  Shakespeare's 
probably  were  not.  There  may  be  any  number 
of  conjectures  as  to  the  nature  of  Hamlet's  mad- 
ness. But  in  the  case  of  Wagner's  creations 
there  is  never  a  shadow  of  doubt  as  to  his 
meaning  among  people  to  whom  words  and 
actions  convey  any  ideas  at  all.1  The  un- 
conscious Art  of  Shakespeare  gives  the  breadth 
of  Meredith's  ten  thousand  beeves  at  pasture, 
while  Wagner,  with  his  conscious,  propagandist 
music-dramas,  is  mounted  upon  horse-back, 

1  Except  in  the  incorrect  versions  usually  seen  in  England, 
which  are  not  easy  to  follow. — R.  R,  B. 

138 


WAGNER   AND    SHAKESPEARE 

and,  like  his  Valkyries,  bears  us  straight  to  the 
Walhalla  of  his  conceptions. 

Perhaps  the  first  of  the  Wagnerian  works 
to  examine  closely  should  be  "  Tristan  and 
Isolde."  It  is  the  one  above  all  which  reveals 
Wagner  as  the  perfect  artist,  complex  in  his 
means  and  absolutely  simple  in  his  results. 
Love  is  the  phase  of  life  most  often  attempted 
by  the  artist,  usually  with  the  worst  results. 
Either  he  is  a  sentimentalist,  dealing  only  with 
the  absurdities  and  the  affectations  that  attend 
those  to  whom  love  is  a  form  of  sickness  rather 
than  healthy  normality.  Or,  being  essentially 
a  beastly  or  erotic  man,  he  smears  his  canvas 
or  degrades  his  stage  with  gross  and  equally 
abnormal  pictures  of  the  worse  than  animal 
side  of  the  subject. 

Now,  to  a  clean  man  love  is  the  delight 
in  beauty,  personified  in  one  woman,  whom  he 
regards  first  as  comrade  and  equal,  and  then, 
diving  deep  into  his  primal  nature,  longs  for 
as  wife.  Or,  from  the  woman's  point  of 
view,  man  becomes  a  symbol  of  strength  and 
energy,  inspiring  trust  and  at  the  same  time 
marking  him  out  as  a  companion  and  mate. 

The  complications  of  marriage  may  provide 
a  comedy,  but  the  only  sane  and  healthy 
tragedy  that  can  arise  from  love  is  in  fate 

139 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

and  circumstance  coming  between  the  lovers, 
the  eternal  conflict  of  Love  and  Death. 

Love  is  the  expression  of  the  race  spirit 
working  for  its  continuance,  and  a  drama 
dealing  with  it  should  be  so  far  religious  that 
it  reveals  to  the  beholder  the  nature  of  the 
passion,  the  need  for  a  complete  union  of  body 
and  soul.  The  capacity  of  men  and  women 
for  love,  and  their  standard  and  measure  of  it, 
determine  the  whole  future  of  the  race,  as 
well  as  their  personal  happiness. 

With  Wagner  as  with  Shakespeare,  their 
ideas  went  along  two  main  roads :  the  love 
of  women  and  of  their  own  nation,  with 
occasional  flashes  of  mystical  vision. 

Wagner's  drama  of  love  is  not  only  of 
supreme  interest  for  its  own  sake,  as  essen- 
tially a  British  tale,  with  a  direct  appeal  to 
normal  feeling.  But,  in  comparison  with 
"  Romeo  and  Juliet,"  a  few  points  of  technical 
interest  stand  out. 

"  Romeo  and  Juliet"  had  long  been  held  the 
full  expression  of  human  love.  And  so  might 
it  have  remained  had  not  form  and  methods 
changed ;  and  had  not  human  thought  also 
progressed.  Shakespeare's  view  was  broad 
enough!  But  he  had  to  express  himself  by 
the  poet's  art  alone,  and,  owing  to  the  spirit 

140 


WAGNER   AND   SHAKESPEARE 

of    his    times,    to     avoid     introspection     and 
psychology. 

So  far  as  method  goes  I  know  of  no  more 
useful  comparison  than  that  of  Scene  2,  Act  ii., 
of  both  dramas.  The  scenic  atmosphere  is 
practically  the  same  in  both  cases. 

"Romeo. — But,   soft,   what  light  through  yonder  window 

breaks  ? 

It  is  the  east  and  Juliet  is  the  sun. 
Arise,  fair  sun,  and  kill  the  envious  moon, 
Who  is  already  sick  and  pale  with  grief, 
That  thou  her  maid  art  far  more  fair  than  she ; 
Be  not  her  maid  since  she  is  envious  ; 
Her  vestal  livery  is  but  sick  and  green, 
And  none  but  fools  do  wear  it;  cast  it  off." 

(Thus  Romeo  comes  to  Juliet.  But  Isolde 
is  able  to  await  Tristan  without  having  to 
create  an  atmosphere  of  love-sickness,  which 
Romeo  does  by  using  the  words  I  have  itali- 
cised. The  orchestra  and  the  scene  do  that 
much  better.) 

The  lovers  meet : — 

"Juliet. — My  ears  have  not  yet  drunk  a  hundred  words  of 

thy  tongue's  uttering,  yet  I  know  the  sound ; 
Art  thou  not  Romeo,  and  a  Montague  ?  " 

(They  then  talk  of  the  scaling  of  the  garden 
walls,  and  more  serious  perils.) 

141 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 
The  other  lovers,  equally  in  danger  : — 

"  Tristan.— Isolde  !     Beloved ! 
Isolde.—  Tristan  !     Beloved ! 
Art  thou  mine  ?  " 

The  orchestra  and  the  scene  render  a  fuller 
greeting  superfluous.  The  outward  expression 
of  human  love  is  a  matter  in  which  words  take 
an  important  but  not  the  first  place.  "  Tristan  " 
seems  to  me  to  have  superseded  "  Romeo 
and  Juliet,"  whereas  "  The  Tempest"  has  no 
parallel  in  more  modern  Art.  In  fact,  if  one 
goes  through  the  whole  range  of  Shakespeare's 
plays  comparing  him  with  the  mastery  of  other 
men,  there  are  but  few  among  them  that  have 
become  out  of  date.  In  common  with  all 
lasting  drama,  "  Tristan  and  Isolde"  is  based 
upon  old  legend.  There  are  two  parts  of  our 
national  lore  which  are  universal — the  Graal 
and  the  Tristan  stories. 

With  these  two  I  propose  to  deal,  holding 
that  they  are  part  of  the  essential  art  of  Britain, 
whose  trunk  and  core  is  Shakespeare,  but 
whose  branches  widen. 

He  has  purged  the  old  story  of  its  dross ; 
the  alloy  is  taken  away  and  the  pure  gold 
remains.  The  result  is  that  we  are  willing 
to  forget  conflicting  versions,  and  to  accept 

142 


WAGNER   AND   SHAKESPEARE 

Wagner's  drama  as  the  true  portrayal — true 
because  it  is  deeper  and  more  human  than  the 
mere  echoes  of  tradition,  which  have  grown 
distant  and  dim. 

Think  of  the  old  story  of  Bretagne,  that 
tempest  of  suffering  and  emotion  that  was 
never  stilled,  the  great  tragedy  that  goes  from 
Life  into  Death,  but  comes  forth  again.  The 
orchestra  surges  in  great  waves  of  tone,  now 
dying  into  a  ripple,  now  heaving  and  swelling, 
and  at  last  sinking  into  calm. 

ACT  I. — A  sailor  is  singing  at  the  masthead, 
but  Isolde,  lying  face  downwards  on  some 
cushions,  in  the  pavilion  which  has  been  erected 
for  her,  pays  no  heed.  Her  maid,  Brangane, 
looks  through  the  curtains,  and  announces  that 
they  near  the  shore.  Isolde  rises  in  fury,  for, 
throughout  the  voyage,  Tristan,  the  knight  who 
takes  her  to  be  the  bride  of  King  Marke,  has 
refused  to  come  to  her.  Up  surges  the  wild 
music,  and  Isolde  gives  vent  to  her  passion, 
which  increases  with  the  storm  which  has 
suddenly  come  upon  the  vessel ;  she  cries  for 
air,  and  Brangane  opens  the  curtains.  Tristan 
stands  among  the  sailors,  gazing  out  to  sea, 
while  Kurwenal,  his  squire,  reclines  at  his  feet. 
The  scene  recalls  memories,  for  Tristan  had 
slain  her  lover,  Morold,  but  being  wounded  his 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

friends  had  carried  him  to  her,  for  she  was 
magician  as  well  as  princess.  His  broken 
sword  had  fitted  the  piece  which  she  had  found 
in  Morold's  wound,  and  it  was  her  intention  to 
slay  him.  But  Tristan's  eyes  betrayed  his 
passion  for  her,  and  she  had  healed  him.  This 
unknown  knight  had  now  been  sent  to  bring 
her  as  bride  to  his  king.  She  hates  his  resolute 
coldness,  and  remembers  Morold.  She  bids 
Brangane  prepare  the  Draught  of  Death. 
Then  she  summons  Tristan.  The  orchestra 
dwells  on  the  scene  till  the  hero  approaches, 
when  it  heralds  him  with  a  majestic  theme, 
which  is  allied  to  him  throughout  the  drama. 
For  a  moment  they  stand  and  gaze,  but,  when 
Tristan  hears  the  nature  of  her  thoughts,  he 
hands  her  his  unsheathed  sword  and  confronts 
Isolde.  This  she  refuses,  for  another  idea  has 
entered  her  mind.  The  draught  is  handed  to 
him  and  for  a  while  they  gaze  at  each  other, 
while  the  music  rises  like  a  dirge.  He  pledges 
her  in  the  deadly  cup,  and  drinks,  but  Isolde 
snatches  the  half-drained  potion,  and  quaffs  it 
with  passionate  recklessness.  The  music  rises 
like  incense  to  the  memory  of  these  lovers, 
who  have  drunk  of  forgetfulness,  till  the  strings 
commence  a  tremulous  theme,  which  is  taken 
up  by  the  whole  orchestra.  This  is  not  Death. 

144 


Photo  by  D.  McNeill,  Stratford-upon-Avon 

MR.  OTHO   STUART  AS  BRUTUS 


WAGNER   AND   SHAKESPEARE 

Isolde  opens  her  arms  and  approaches  Tristan, 
who,  step  by  step,  responds.  Brangane  has 
mixed  a  potion  of  Love,  not  Death.  Free  will 
is  gone.  Controlled  by  outer  forces  they  rush 
into  each  other's  arms,  and  echo  in  word, 
gesture,  and  embrace  all  that  the  wild  pulses 
of  the  orchestra  portray. 

The  ship  is  in  port,  and  the  maids  of  King 
Marke  robe  Isolde  in  her  bridal  dress,  as  soon 
as  Kurwenal  has  dragged  Tristan  away. 

ACT  II. — The  introduction  gives  a  musical 
picture  of  the  lovers'  unrest,  now  that  they  are 
lit  for  conflagration.  The  curtain  parts  and 
shows  the  doorway  of  King  Marke's  Castle, 
while  stretched  before  us  is  a  woodland  scene, 
with  moonlight  filtering  through  the  trees  and 
shimmering  on  the  stream,  and  the  air  is  filled 
with  music  more  lovely  than  all  the  praises  of 
poet  or  painter,  the  very  growth  of  the  beauty 
revealed.  The  sounds  of  hunting  are  intro- 
duced, and  we  can  follow  its  course  through 
the  mingling  of  these  sounds  with  the  other 
music.  The  whole  scene  is  voiceless  till  Isolde 
and  Brangane  come  forward.  Isolde  bids  the 
latter  extinguish  the  torch  that  blazes  in  the 
doorway,  and  so  bid  Tristan  come.  Brangane 
fears  treachery,  so  Isolde -herself  takes  down 
the  light.  Then,  standing  in  the  moonlight, 

H5  K 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

with  the  intermittent  sound  of  hunting  coming 
to  her  ears,  she  beckons  to  her  lover.  He 
comes,  and  the  music  is  filled  with  strange 
magic.  It  rises  and  falls,  eddies,  sparkles, 
grows  overcast  with  portent  as  Love  holds 
them  in  each  other's  arms.  They  sing  of 
Night  and  oblivion  as  a  land  of  rest,  a  dark 
casket  jewelled  with  stars  beyond  the  chain  of 
sense  or  circumstance.  In  ecstasy  they  pass 
the  hours  till  Dawn  and  hard  reality  strike 
them  cold.  And  dolorous  sounds  come  from 
the  orchestra  in  place  of  the  magic  which  has 
fled. 

ACT  III. — At  the  end  we  have  tragedy  in  all 
its  fulness.  Fever  burns  Tristan's  last  embers. 
Delirium  preys  upon  him.  With  feverish 
strength  he  pushes  the  stalwart  squire  away 
and  rises  in  his  bed.  "  The  ship!  the  ship!" 
With  frenzy  he  awaits  Kurwenal's  report. 
Not  yet  in  sight !  At  last  when  the  deli- 
rium, the  burning  hope,  the  blasting  despair, 
have  risen  to  their  height,  the  shepherd  pipes 
a  merry  tune.  Kurwenal  rushes  to  the  emi- 
nence, descends  with  tears  of  joy  :  the  ship  is 
in  sight.  Tristan  is  suspicious.  Is  Kurwenal 
false  too?  In  weakness  he  subsides,  but  rises 
again  with  madness  upon  him,  for  he  has  had 
to  bear  the  full  tide  of  hurrlan  sorrow  and 

146 


WAGNER   AND    SHAKESPEARE 

passion,  and  the  meridian  of  pain ;  and  the 
tired,  burning  man  gives  full  vent  to  his 
emotion,  the  orchestra  tossing  its  tone  billows 
in  harmony  with  the  waves  of  delirium.  He 
tears  off  his  bandages  and  staggers  from  his 
couch,  for  he  has  heard  Isolde's  approach,  and 
bids  his  blood  flow  merrily.  She  enters  in 
time  to  support  him  as  he  falls.  He  has  just 
time  to  breathe  her  name,  which  he  does  to 
the  same  phrase  as  in  the  first  Act,  and  sinks 
lifeless,  she  helpless  with  grief  beside  him. 
Then  another  ship  arrives.  Brangane  has 
admitted  her  guilt,  and  King  Marke  arrives 
to  pardon  them.  But  Kurwenal  has  observed 
Melot  among  the  soldiers,  offers  a  stout  re- 
sistance, and  is  slain,  and  with  his  last  ounce 
of  strength  the  faithful  fellow  drags  himself  to 
the  body  of  his  master.  King  Marke  blesses 
them  in  noble,  kingly  phrases,  while  Brangane 
weeps.  Then  rises  Isolde  from  the  corses  of 
Tristan  and  Kurwenal,  like  a  sleepwalker 
gazing  on  untold  treasure.  She  sings  of  a 
life  beyond  where  she  and  Tristan  speed 
through  space  together  to  some  unknown  land. 
The  vibrant  orchestra  shows  that  beyond  the 
quiet  voice  there  is  great  exaltation.  Her  face 
is  lit  up  as  she  glorifies  the  dead,  and  sees  in 
death  a  great  crescendo,  a  rainbow  bridge 

147 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

from  here  to  Walhall.  Slowly  she  bends  and 
sinks  lifeless  upon  her  lover.  For  in  her  song 
has  her  soul  gone  out.  So  must  it  have  been, 
as  always  in  life,  which  demands  of  the  great 
ones  their  all  before  they  pass  unfettered  into 
the  Land  of  Night.  Of  the  miser  death  takes 
toll  of  his  millions,  of  the  lover  his  love,  before 
they  pass  out  alone  or  with  a  comrade. 

It  is  said  that  the  lovers  were  buried  to- 
gether, and  that  an  ivy  plant  and  a  vine  grew 
up  over  their  tomb,  and  mingled  together  so 
that  no  man  could  part  them,  for  so  it  was 
with  them  in  life,  and  so  in  death. 

So  much  for  an  outward  expression  of  the 
work,  but  what  of  the  feelings  it  engenders  ? 

Would  that  all  lovers  newly  plighted,  or  on 
their  wedding  day,  could  come  under  the  spell ! 
I  cannot  think  of  a  phase  of  love  which  is  not 
touched  in  this  living  dream. 

Here  we  are  not  faced  by  "  realism "  or 
"  romanticism,"  but  we  see  the  romance  of 
reality. 

And  what  is  this  Love  ? 

It  is  not  aspiration  towards  a  freer  life 
in  a  life  beyond,  which  is  a  part  of  Divine 
Love.  It  is  not  a  longing  for  human  beauty, 
which  is  of  the  good  earth.  But  it  is  born  of 
these  things.  It  is  a  realisation  that  man  is 

148 


WAGNER   AND   SHAKESPEARE 

twofold,  and  that  the  union  of  the  sexes,  like 
the  reconciliation  of  man  to  God,  is  a  primal 
thing.  Only  where  these  two  things  are  first 
in  the  consciousness  of  men  is  it  possible  to 
get  forward  to  the  freedom  and  the  beauty  we 
long  for.  When  every  sense  is  purified  by 
spirit,  when  the  turmoil  of  present-day  strife 
has  fled,  man  will  realise  that  each  physical 
sense  has  its  spiritual  counterpart,  that  this 
Hellenic  view  of  love  will  lead  us,  not  to 
savagery,  but  to  the  simple  strength  of  ele- 
mental things. 

Love  then,  stripped  of  all  disguise  of  custom 
or  warped  instincts,  is  life's  supreme  end.  It 
is  a  manifestation  of  the  race  spirit  in  this 
world  of  ours,  in  which  body  and  soul  seek 
kinship.  And  if  this  drama  of  Wagner  is  the 
supreme  exposition  of  love,  if  in  Shakespeare 
we  find  the  pageants  of  national  history,  the 
dramas  of  fate  and  ambition,  and  the  comedies 
of  wit  and  beauty,  but  two  sides  remain  to 
focus  as  it  were  a  world's  spiritual  essence 
within  the  four  walls  of  a  theatre.  These 
are : 

(a)  The  relation  of  mankind  to  a  Saviour. 

(&)  A  contemporary  drama,  dealing  with 
such  paramount  forces  of  our  own  day  as  are 
not  included. 

149 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

The  latter  I  leave  to  the  next  chapter,  and 
will  deal  here  with  "  Parsifal." 

For,  while  regarding  "  Tannhatiser "  as  a 
work  that  deserves  complete  production  in  a 
British  theatre,  "Tristan"  and  "  Parsifal" 
alone  are  imperatively  Indo-European  and 
akin  to  our  race  in  the  most  vital  sense. 

"  Parsifal "  is  more  akin  than  any  existing 
work  to  the  Mystery  Play.  The  Passion  Play 
atOberammergau  is  a  narrative,  an  illustration. 
"  Parsifal"  is  a  religious  ceremony,  in  which 
the  ideas  of  the  East  blend  with  Western  con- 
ceptions. 

Wagner's  German  Federalism  expressed 
itself  in  the  "Ring"  cycle,  his  peculiarly 
German  folk-spirit  in  the  pageantry  of  "  Die 
Meistersinger  " — the  German  "  Merry  Wives 
of  Windsor." 

But  in  "  Parsifal "  he  reveals  a  consciousness 
of  kinship  with  the  Indian  side  of  our  nature. 
Not  only  was  the  work  to  be  Christian  in 
idea,  but  a  vision  of  Indian  wisdom. 

If  we  compare  the  Jewish  hot-blood  of 
"  Salome  "  with  the  restraint  of  Wagner's  last 
work,  my  meaning  becomes  clear. 

Life  is  not  all  love  and  death,  but  the  re- 
demption must  find  its  place  in  our  thoughts. 

The  legend  upon  which  the  work  is  based 
150 


WAGNER   AND    SHAKESPEARE 

came  from  the  East  to  France,  thence  to 
Germany,  where  it  became  the  subject  of 
Wolfram  von  Eschenbach's  great  poem,  and 
to  Britain,  as  the  legend  of  Peredur,  the  son 
of  Evrawc  (Mabinogion). 

Parsifal  is  the  pure  and  simple  youth  who 
brings  salvation  through  sympathy.  Amfortas, 
the  Grail  King,  has  been  false  to  his  race,  the 
Grail  worship  no  longer  is  a  joy,  but  is  full  of 
the  pain  of  inconsistency. 

There  is  nothing  in  "  Parsifal "  to  suggest 
that  asceticism  is  an  ideal  in  itself.  It  was 
decadence  and  impurity  which  brought  to 
King  Amfortas  the  wound  that  never  would 
heal. 

The  story,  roughly  and  with  differences,  re- 
minds one  of  that  of  Christ  Himself,  and  the 
symbolic  significance  of  the  work  is  inspired 
by  the  Messianic  idea.  For  this  reason  it  is, 
from  the  Christian  and  Anglo-Celtic  points  of 
view,  the  simplest  of  dramas,  and  one  of  the 
most  necessary. 

As  we  have  seen,  there  is  nothing  of  Judaic 
faith  in  the  work.  "  Parsifal"  sprang  from  the 
East,  and  has  reappeared  wherever  the  Indo- 
European  race  has  spread.  Wagner's  version 
is  simply  a  blending  of  essentials  in  the  form 
of  a  ceremony. 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

The  performance  of  such  a  work  as  an 
entertainment  would  be  an  outrage. 

At  Stratford  it  would  be  a  solemn  aftermath 
of  a  season  traversing  our  history,  our  nature 
and  comic  traits,  our  love  and  faith. 


152 


VII 

CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

THE  Stratford  Movement  grew  out  of  Shake- 
speare, who  was  as  English  as  the  Avon, 
though  as  universal  as  the  water  which  is 
the  genius  of  rivers  everywhere.  The  religi- 
ous nature  of  the  drama  has  been  shown  to 
us  by  the  Greeks,  and  the  nationalism  of  the 
Teutonic  people  stands  out  in  the  person  and 
art  of  Richard  Wagner. 

So  far  the  Memorial  Theatre  has  opened 
its  doors  to  the  Orestean  trilogy. 

And  the  Governors  have  incorporated  folk- 
dancing  in  their  broad  and  human  scheme. 
So  that  there  is  nothing  incongruous  in  dealing 
briefly  with  the  most  popular  and  essentially 
national  of  all  art  forms,  that  of  Choral  Song. 

It  is  the  modernity,  and  not  the  medievalism 
of  Shakespeare,  that  has  made  the  Festival 
possible. 

But  the  modern  stage  having  drifted  away 
from  normal  life  and  the  expression  of  living 
thought,  the  creative  impulse  has  found 

153 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

other  outlets.  Instead  of  Wagner  we  have 
Elgar:  instead  of  "  Parsifal"  we  have  "The 
Dream  of  Gerontius."  Instead  of  the  rich 
music-drama  of  Germany,  or  the  delicate 
fantasy  of  France,  we  have  our  legacy  of 
Folk  Song. 

Unhappily  our  glorious  choral  music,  in 
which  alone  this  country  excels,  is  confined 
to  musical  circles,  choral  societies,  and  concert- 
rooms.  But  seeing  that  the  expression  of 
communal  feeling  lies  at  the  root  of  the 
movement,  the  time  is  growing  ripe  for  the 
introduction  of  choral  art  into  the  Festival 
Scheme. 

As  this  book  is  not  only  a  record  of  things 
done,  but  a  broad  statement  of  the  various 
tendencies  of  folk  art,  I  will  try  to  show  what 
is  the  actual  condition  of  choral  England,  and 
how  choral  art  stands  or  might  stand  towards 
the  general  idea  of  Stratford. 

The  spoken  drama  and  choral  song  both 
have  their  roots  in  the  folk ;  they  are  branches 
of  the  same  tree,  balancing  and  giving  pro- 
portion. In  Shakespeare  himself  music  and 
speech  were  as  one,  and  his  plays  full  of 
snatches  of  song  natural  to  an  age  wherein 
music  was  a  language  to  men  who  could 
barely  write  their  names.  To  this  day  much 

154 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

music  lingers  among  those  to  whom  book- 
learning  has  not  come. 

Men  like  Sir  Charles  Stanford,  Messrs. 
Frank  Kidson,  Cecil  Sharp,  M'llwaine,  John 
Graham,  and  Percy  Grainger,  and  Miss  Lucy 
Broadwood  have  rescued  and  published  many 
folk-songs,  bringing  them  from  oblivion  only 
just  in  time. 

Though  they  have  been  brought  from  the 
country  inn  and  from  the  fields,  modern  com- 
posers have  not  as  yet  been  dominated  or 
drenched  with  the  power  and  purity  of  them. 
They  are  wayside  flowers  rather  than  humanity's 
daily  food.  And  that  is  why  critics  like  Mr. 
Newman  laugh  at  the  idea  of  national  choral 
art,  based  upon  the  past. 

Miss  Neal  and  the  Esperance  Club  have 
done  a  great  work,  while  Sir  Charles  Stanford 
has  encouraged  the  study  of  folk-song  at  the 
Royal  College  of  Music.  Mr.  Sharp,  too,  con- 
trols a  school,  and  has  edited  several  volumes. 

But  only  recently  has  folk-song  begun  its 
successful  campaign  at  the  great  musical  festi- 
vals, linking  them  up  with  the  outworn  oratorio 
form. 

To  properly  appreciate  this  point  it  is  neces- 
sary to  give  a  picture  of  musical  England,  and 
to  invest  it  with  personality,  remembering  that 

155  ' 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

not  England  alone,  but  the  Colonies,  and  above 
all  the  Dominion  of  Canada,  are  progressing  on 
these  lines. 

With  regard  to  the  Musical  Festivals  of  this 
country  a  few  words  must  be  said. 

If  we  compare  their  nature  with  that  of 
the  Shakespeare  Festival  three  things  are 
lacking : — 

(a)  A  common  aim  centring  around  a  living 
idea,  and  definite  policy. 

(6)  Conditions  of  health  and  open  air. 

(c)  A  popular  or  national  tendency. 

These  are  evils  which  cannot  be  denied. 

Their  virtues  are  : — 

(a)  At  the  Three  Choir  Festivals  (Hereford, 
Gloucester,  and  Worcester)  a  certain  religious 
tradition  informs  them,  giving  life  and  a  reason 
for  existence. 

(b)  Occasionally  a  City  Festival  (Leeds,  New- 
castle, or   Birmingham)  introduces  a  work  of 
national  or  popular  interest,  as  will  be  seen. 

The  first  cause  of  the  trouble  is  irreparable. 
The  modern  city  is  no  place  for  joy  and  great 
endeavour,  though  it  might  become  so  if  the 
artistic  life  of  the  city  were  born  anew. 

Alone  among  rural  festivals  is  that  at  Hov- 
ingham.  It  is  a  country  organisation,  founded 
in  1886  by  a  parson,  and  aided  by  the  squire — 

'56 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

two  types  that  do  not  suggest  democratic  feel- 
ing to  those  who  look  narrowly  at  life.  The 
quality  of  the  works  done  at  this  village  is  not 
inferior  to  that  at  any  of  the  larger  ones.  At 
present  the  organisation  remains,  but  the  work 
is  in  abeyance. 

Leeds,  Birmingham,  and  Cardiff  also  have 
had  to  face  a  decline  in  support.  This  is  not 
surprising  in  view  of  the  high  prices,  which 
make  what  are  ostensibly  popular  festivals 
into  society  gatherings.  True,  they  are  held 
at  different  cities,  but  the  audience  is  the  same. 
Seldom  do  they  represent  either  the  taste  or 
feeling  of  their  locality.  A  big  reputation  or 
special  aptitude  at  wire-pulling  are  qualities 
which  too  often  determine  the  production  of 
works.  Seldom  does  a  regard  either  for  the 
peculiar  merits  of  a  work,  or  even  the  tendency 
of  popular  desire,  weigh  in  the  balance.  A  sort 
of  hopeless  routine  maintains  some  of  them  in 
existence,  yet  they  are  a  power,  and  have  done 
much  to  set  a  standard  for  the  numerous  healthy 
choral  societies  which  alone  keep  art  alive  in 
many  a  town.  Yet  music,  the  theatre,  the 
popular  " music-hall"  are  separate  things  de- 
signed to  meet  existing  demands,  and  depen- 
dent upon  the  conditions  to  which  unhappily 
they  have  fallen  a  prey. 

157 


THE    SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

And  if  you  doubt  this  go  to  a  Musical  Festival 
Committee,  or  a  theatre,  and  talk  to  the  or- 
ganisers about  Art  and  Beauty,  and  hear  their 
answers  from  them  rather  than  from  me. 

It  is  more  fruitful  to  turn  for  a  few  minutes 
to  the  work  achieved  by  composers  in  spite 
of  these  conditions.  For  those  composers  who 
have  survived  the  obstacles  which  custom  and 
narrowness  of  outlook  have  thrust  before  them 
are  full  of  the  spirit  of  the  old  bards.  We 
have  in  fact  a  case  of  the  survival  of  the  fittest. 
The  fact  that  they  have  been  compelled  to 
write  for  Choral  Festivals  and  Societies  has 
led  to  an  amazing  development  of  choral  sing- 
ing, especially  in  Yorkshire  and  Wales.  When 
a  man  is  writing  for  a  fashionable  opera-house 
or  for  the  commercial  theatre,  he  may  indulge 
in  many  a  folly.  But  he  whose  work  is  to  be 
sung  by  and  to  the  people  must  purge  himself 
of  all  dross. 

For  music  is  the  communal,  the  brotherly  Art. 
Choral  and  dramatic  compositions  blend  the 
emotions  of  a  multitude,  and  express  the  ideas  of 
the  composer.  One  need  not  be  a  critic  or  an 
expert  to  enjoy  the  great  works  of  our  own 
day,  for  it  is  the  business  of  the  bard  to  make 
himself  clear,  and  the  only  composers  to  be 
mentioned  in  this  study  are  those  who  have 

158 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

something  in  common  with  the  normal  feelings 
of  human  beings. 

The  most  typical  English  composer  is  Sir 
Hubert  Parry.  His  music  is  that  of  the  old 
school,  the  kind  of  men  who  believe  in  God  and 
do  not  despise  good  port.  No  one  is  more 
sound  spiritually,  and  in  few  works  is  there  a 
nobler  conception  of  Life  and  Death  than  in  his 
choral  poem  "Beyond  these  Voices  there  is 
Peace,"  while  his  "  Pied  Piper  of  Hamelin"  is 
a  work  of  delightful  humour.  Stratford,  too, 
has  "  A  Piper  "  of  its  own,  piping  the  pipe  of 
peace  through  all  the  narrow  Hamelins  of 
England,  wakening  into  life  the  true  folk-spirit 
of  our  real  selves.  And  many  a  work  of  Choral 
England  is  so  in  harmony  with  the  spirit  of 
the  movement  as  to  make  these  notes  worth 
writing. 

The  obvious  leader  of  the  modern  British 
school  is  Sir  Edward  Elgar.  The  undiscrimi- 
nating  eulogy  of  those  who  see  in  him  Alpha 
and  Omega,  cannot  blind  us  to  the  fact  that 
Elgar  is  a  man  who  has  beaten  down  academic 
tradition,  and  put  the  oratorio  in  touch  with  the 
people. 

And  it  is  this  popular  touch  which  alone  is 
of  any  importance  in  Art.  For  here,  under 
natural  conditions,  popularity  loses  its  old 

159 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

significance.  No  longer  is  the  word  "  popular  " 
a  gibe,  standing  in  the  handcuffs  of  inverted 
commas,  but  signifying  the  approval  of  a  people 
who  know  how  to  enjoy. 

The  technique  of  Elgar  is  very  wonderful. 
He  learnt  much  from  Wagner,  and  also  from 
Richard  Strauss.  Indeed,  he  owes  to  Strauss 
the  second  hearing,  and  consequent  success,  of 
his  great  work,  "  The  Dream  of  Gerontius." 
The  Birmingham  Festival  production  was  a 
failure.  Elgar  himself  is  not  one  of  those  men 
to  become  popular  in  a  moment.  But  the 
work  was  given  at  the  Lower  Rhine  Festival, 
Dtisseldorf,  1902,  and  Strauss  made  a  speech 
which  caused  musical  England  to  be  thoroughly 
ashamed  of  itself,  and  gave  Elgar  his  real 
opportunity. 

Those  who  have  neither  heard  nor  read  the 
work  will  have  gathered  that  it  deals  with 
Death,  and  that  the  music  is  difficult  to  sing 
and  to  understand.  At  the  end  of  a  hard  day's 
work  this  is  so.  I  first  heard  it  under  those 
conditions,  and  had  to  travel  to  and  fro  over 
sixty  miles.  Every  throb  of  the  great  poem 
beats  within  me  yet.  Yet  how  much  better 
would  it  be  in  the  twilight  of  golden  holiday, 
with  peace  upon  the  river,  and  silence  in  the 
theatre  of  our  dreams. 

1 60 


Photo  by  Ellis  &  H'alery 

MR.  ARTHUR  BOURCHIER  AS  SHYLOCK   AND  MISS  VIOLET 
VANBRUGH   AS   PORTIA 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

Nor  can  those  of  us  who  regard  national  art 
as  a  vital  thing  ignore  "  Caractacus,"  produced 
at  the  Leeds  Festival  of  1904.  It  is  great  be- 
cause it  deals  with  one  of  our  national  heroes, 
and  the  music  is  that  of  a  strong  man,  who 
burns  with  faith,  in  whose  own  soul  conflict 
between  Christianity  and  Paganism  has  been 
fought,  and  whose  art  is  the  soul's  battle-ground. 
That  is  why  the  great,  thundering  choruses  of 
"  Caractacus "  go  straight  home.  And  it  is 
because  "  King  Olaf  "  lacks  this  quality  that  it 
is  merely  a  picturesque  piece  of  music. 

Again,  Elgar  is  a  Catholic,  a  man  who 
believed  in  Gordon,  and  who,  like  the  hero  of 
Khartum,  combines  a  noble  faith  with  good 
fighting  qualities.  Gordon's  favourite  poem 
was  Cardinal  Newman's  (<  Dream  of  Gerontius," 
the  wonderful  vision  that  tells  of  the  soul  of  a 
man,  seemingly  dead,  arriving  before  the  throne 
of  the  great  King  in  judgment.  Gordon  died 
with  that  poem  in  his  pocket.  Elgar  lived, 
and  will  live  for  ever  as  composer,  because  he 
expressed  in  music  the  atmosphere  of  the  poem, 
and  is  able  to  plunge  a  chorus,  an  orchestra, 
and  an  audience  into  a  sublime  state  of  sub- 
conscious actuality.  And  when  Elgar  writes 
"  Pomp  and  Circumstance  "  military  marches, 
or  sets  to  music  drawing-room  songs,  it  is  all 

161  L 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

very  well,  and  when  he  composes  a  great 
symphony  or  a  new  violin  concerto  it  is  a 
festive  day  for  musical  people.  But  it  is  as 
the  bard  of  Caractacus  and  as  the  priest  of 
Gerontius  that  he  will  live. 

Elgar  too  has  been  exercised  as  to  the  future 
of  music  as  a  general  rather  than  a  specialised 
art.  His  proposal,  amplified  a  little  by  me 
for  purposes  of  illustration,  is  something  like 
this  :— 

Let  the  money  that  is  wasted  on  stupid 
certificates  and  scholarships  be  spent  in  pro- 
viding concert-halls.  Let  those  concert-halls 
be  fitted  with  a  proscenium,  so  that,  in  case  of 
need,  musico-dramatic  works  can  be  performed. 
The  English  temperament  prefers  choral  to 
purely  orchestral  or  operatic  work  ;  therefore, 
these  public  "  music-halls "  must  not  be  mere 
theatres.  But  let  them  be  so  arranged  that 
the  following  types  of  work  may  be  pro- 
duced : 

(a)  Choral  works,  varying  from  "  Gerontius  " 
to  "  Hiawatha,"  the  soloists  wearing  simple 
gowns  rather  than  the  costume  of  the  modern 
dance  or  dinner  party. 

(3)  Cantatas  like  Handel's  "  L'Allegro." 

(c)  Wagner's  dramas  and  Greek  plays  with 
music,  also  British  music-drama,  beginning 

162 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

with  Purcell,  produced  as  upon  the  ordinary 
stage,  only  better. 

If  this  is  at  all  his  idea,  Sir  Edward  has 
given  voice  to  a  general  feeling,  by  no  means 
out  of  harmony  with  Stratford. 

For  one  of  the  features  of  London  music  in 
1910  was  Madame  Marie  Brema's  produc- 
tion of  Purcell's  "Orpheus"  and  Handel's 
"  L' Allegro." 

Now  the  "  Allegro,"  which  is,  of  course, 
a  setting  of  Milton's  poem  (combined  with 
alternating  passages  from  "  Penseroso  "),  is  full 
of  scenic  suggestion  and  beauty,  though  pro- 
duced hitherto  as  a  mere  "  cantata."  Madame 
Brema  has  boldly  staged  it,  and  never,  save  at 
Bayreuth,  have  I  seen  a  work  more  satisfying. 
The  absence  of  the  stale  operatic  lust  and 
nonsense,  instead  of  causing  a  lack  of  interest, 
creates  a  natural  and  human  atmosphere  un- 
usual in  the  theatre.  Handel  no  more  seems 
dull,  nor  Milton's  muse  remote,  because  the 
joy  of  rustic  dance  alternates  with  spiritual 
beauty  in  the  stage  picture.  It  is  English  to 
the  core,  a  veritable  Folk  Festival. 

Too  long  has  choral  England  left  a  gap 
between  oratorio  and  opera.  Both  are  un- 
natural. Elijah  in  evening  dress  is  as  absurd 
a  spectacle  as  the  conspirators  in  "  Rigoletto," 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

who  roar  at  one  another  "  Let  us  be  silent." 
Nothing  could  be  more  natural  than  to  see 
Milton's  "  pensive  nun"  and  his  jolly  English 
dancers  realise  upon  the  stage  the  simple 
beauty  of  the  work.  Truly,  one  may  say 
"  Hence,  loathed  melancholy." 

And  in  Gluck's  "  Orpheus"  this  was  even 
more  the  case.  The  legend  of  Orpheus  deals 
with  the  idea  of  Music  as  a  power  on  earth,  in 
heaven,  and  in  the  dismal  cave  where  dwell 
the  Furies,  all  the  untamed  bestialities  of  life. 
Angrily  they  threaten  Orpheus,  who  gradually 
quells  their  torment  and  sings  them  back  to 
human  feeling  again.  Never  shall  I  forget 
that  scene,  wherein  a  tortuous  forest  of  writhing 
limbs  dumbly  proclaimed  bodily  unrest,  while 
the  air  was  full  of  the  torment  of  souls  in 
sound.  And  this  legend  of  Orpheus  has  much 
akin  to  the  tales  of  Oisin,  the  Irish  hero,  sung 
by  Mr.  Yeats. 

I  mention  this  Greek  play,  partly  because 
the  union  of  Greek  feeling  in  the  art  of  our 
people  tends  to  emphasise  the  Greek  elements 
of  Christianity.  Recent  research  confirms  the 
belief  that  Christ  Himself  spoke  Greek,  and 
therefore  is  by  no  means  to  be  considered  as 
Judaistic.  St.  Paul  frankly  proclaimed  himself 
as  a  citizen  of  the  Roman  Imperium,  while  his 

164 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

culture  was  Greek,  his  teaching,  too,  being  full 
of  Hellenic  ideas.  This  question  is  important 
to  us  as  a  race,  for  the  belief  that  we  are 
essentially  Jewish  in  religion,  basing  our  con- 
ceptions upon  Jewish  tradition,  prevents  a  full 
value  being  given  to  our  own  national  customs 
and  natural  ideals  in  art  and  life.  But  another 
practical  object  in  referring  to  Madame  Brema's 
experiment.  In  his  book  on  "  Musical  England" 
(p.  112),  Mr.  W.  G.  Galloway  pleads  for  a 
broader  policy  on  the  part  of  Musical  Festivals. 
He  would  have  them  include  in  their  pro- 
grammes both  dramatic  works  and  so-called 
oratorios  and  choral  poems.  Bristol  has  gone 
so  far  as  to  perform  Wagnerian  drama  without 
scenery,  but  no  further  response  has  come  or 
is  to  be  expected. 

The  unhappy  divorce  between  music  and 
drama  is  seen  in  yet  another  way,  exempli- 
fied by  the  mediaeval  play  "  Everyman,"  the 
dramatic  version  of  which  has  been  produced 
by  Mr.  Poel  and  others.  This  was  the  subject 
of  Dr.  Walford  Davies'  first  great  choral  work 
(Leeds  Festival,  1904),  and  both  in  its  atmos- 
phere and  simple  strength  is  one  of  the  greatest 
works  written  by  a  Briton. 

Here  is  a  clear  case  of  power  lost  by 
separated  effort.  We  have  an  oratorio  and 

165 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

a  spoken  play  instead  of  a  united  effort  such 
as  would  have  resulted  had  the  various  arts 
had  common  centres  and  a  unified  public. 

If  Stratford  should  encourage  choral  work, 
and  meet  with  encouragement  to  do  so,  our 
Musical  Festivals  themselves  would  gather 
much  useful  knowledge  by  the  experiment, 
which  they  could  develop  in  their  own  cities. 

Having  seen  what  the  Festivals  have  done 
for  music,  and  in  an  oblique  and  obscure  way 
for  drama  (without  scenery),  let  us  glance  at 
the  fate  of  poetry  amid  all  this  specialisation. 

Apart  from  the  old  oratorio,  which  is  simply 
drama  marred  in  the  making,  the  modern  com- 
poser can  do  two  things  which  the  dramatist 
cannot  attempt,  and  which  supplements  the 
drama  on  the  one  side  as  does  dancing  on 
the  other : — 

(a)  The    setting    of    narrative    poems    for 
chorus  and  orchestra. 

(6)  The    setting    of    poems    to    expressive 
music. 

In  these  arts,  especially  in  the  latter,  Elgar, 
Bantock,  Stanford,  and  Walford  Davies  excel. 

Walford  Davies,  for  instance,  has  more  of 
the  poet  about  him  than  Elgar,  as  the  choice 
of  Blake's  "  Songs  of  Innocence"  and  Herrick's 
"  Noble  Numbers"  indicates. 

1 66 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

Stanford  excels  as  an  arranger  of  folk-song, 
with  the  brogue  peculiar  to  his  native  Ireland. 

People  do  not  read  poetry  nowadays.  They 
shrink  from  the  imaginative  effort.  And,  in 
view  of  the  beauty  of  our  poems,  it  is  a 
fortunate  thing  that  our  composers  are  good 
readers  of  poetry.  Granville  Bantock's  study 
is  full  of  poems.  "  The  Time  Spirit"  and 
"  Sea  Wanderers,"  by  Helen  Bantock,  are  the 
very  life  of  the  choral  works  which  her  husband 
has  developed  from  them.  There  is  nothing 
of  the  minor  poet  about  her  :  she  is  capable  of 
restraint,  of  "mood,"  which  are  the  foundation 
of  choral  or  dramatic  poetry.  And  these  works, 
especially  the  latter,  which  was  first  performed 
at  Leeds  Festival  (1907),  enable  thousands  of 
people  to  hear  poetry,  not  merely  to  sit  at 
home  and  read  it. 

Then  again  his  "Sappho  Songs ;;  (for  con- 
tralto) are  among  the  loveliest  of  their  kind. 
Founded  upon  fragments  of  Sappho's  poems, 
translated  by  H.  T.  Wharton,  Granville  Ban- 
tock has  made  them  the  medium  of  a  series 
of  mood  pictures,  showing  the  varying  colours 
of  sexual  passion.  They  are  pure,  noble  utter- 
ances, varying  from  brooding  reminiscence,  as 
in  "  I  loved  thee,  Atthis,  long  ago,"  through 
the  beautiful  sorrow  of  the  "Lament  for 

167 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Adonis,"  to  the  victorious  and  joyful  rhapsody 
of  the  lover  who  finds  a  mate. 

But  the  wider  public  regards  Bantock  as  the 
creator  of  the  choral  and  orchestral  setting  of 
Fitzgerald's  "  Omar  Khayydm."  The  value  of 
this  work  can  never  be  known  until  it  has  been 
set  upon  the  stage,  each  of  its  three  parts  an 
Act,  in  a  garden  scene  of  languorous  afternoon. 
The  composer  wisely  has  divided  the  quatrains 
dramatically  between  the  Poet,  the  Beloved, 
and  the  Philosopher,  leaving  the  descriptive 
parts  to  the  chorus.  Under  Stratford  condi- 
tions a  work  of  this  kind,  though  not  a  play 
in  the  ordinary  sense,  would  provide  us  with 
a  delightful  "  static  drama/'  Concert  condi- 
tions are  most  unsatisfactory  with  such  a  work. 

The  restful  atmosphere  of  the  garden,  and 
the  special  qualities  of  the  philosophy  have 
never  been  fully  understood.  No  less  a 
nationalist  than  Professor  Geddes  has  empha- 
sised the  value  of  Omar  to  the  Western  mind. 
For  it  must  never  be  forgotten  that  we  are  of 
Aryan  stock,  that  the  Indo-European  race  links 
East  and  West. 

If  our  politicians  were  more  alive  to  that 
the  race  difficulties  in  India  would  dwindle  to 
nothing. 

Our  mixture  with  the  Semites,  noble  though 
168 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

the  Jews  be  among  races,  has  blinded  us  to 
our  common  heritage,  along  with  Eastern 
peoples,  to  be  found  in  Eastern  legend  and 
thought.  But  until,  as  a  race,  we  are  more 
self-conscious,  we  cannot  come  back  to  the 
Eastern  home  of  Old  Father  Wisdom. 

Our  own  immediate  forbears  claim  us  through 
the  art  which  is  within  our  immediate  grasp,  the 
song  of  the  Anglo-Celts. 

Since  Purcell,  1690,  with  his  "Dido  and 
yEneas  "  and  "  King  Arthur/'  we  have  had  no 
true  national  style.  Music  has  been  too  much 
a  matter  of  abstract  culture,  too  little  a  means 
of  expressing  popular  feeling.  Yet  in  these 
days,  with  life  so  complex,  with  large  orchestras 
and  choral  societies  everywhere ;  with  a  world 
so  full  of  joy  and  sorrow  ;  in  the  midst  of 
political  change,  with  the  air  tremulous  with 
national  anxieties  ;  surely  the  time  has  come 
for  the  bard  to  lead  national  feeling,  and  to 
bring  courage  and  hope  into  the  people's  life. 
The  great  public  is  tired  of  lust,  horror,  and 
stupidity  on  the  operatic  stage.  Nor  does  it 
desire  dull,  trite,  academic  twistings  of  the 
Scriptures  in  the  choral  works  of  uninspired 
professors. 

In  the  old  times  folk-song  was  the  very  life 
of  the  -country,  the  vocal  expression  of  Merrie 

169 


THE    SHAKESPEARE   REVIVAL 

England,  in  the  days  of  the  dance  and  the 
maypole.  Therefore  the  modern  composer  is 
right  in  turning  again  to  the  popular  folk-song. 
To  bring  the  folk-song  from  the  public-house 
of  the  countryside  into  the  public  hall  of  the 
Choral  Society  is  a  sound  basis  for  a  national 
art.  By  this  I  do  not  mean  that  any  musician 
who  writes  an  elaborate  and  windy  orchestral 
piece,  based  upon  tunes  stolen  from  the  library 
of  a  collector  of  folk-music,  is  saving  his 
country. 

When  Rutland  Boughton  produced  his 
"  Choral  Variations  on  English  Folk  Songs" 
at  the  Leeds  Festival  (1907),  I  had  never 
heard  of  him.  And  it  was  through  Mr.  Ban- 
tock's  cordial  praise  that  I  came  into  touch 
with  his  ideas,  and  into  contact  with  his  work 
— to  bring  music  into  the  hospitals,  the  prisons, 
and  the  workhouses,  as  well  as  the  theatre. 

Therefore  one  may  take  him  seriously  when 
he  sets  folk-songs  for  choruses,  avowedly  for 
the  purpose  of  bringing  people  together  in  a 
brotherly  way,  through  the  Arts. 

His  method  of  setting  works  for  unaccom- 
panied chorus  is  on  the  same  free,  melodic 
lines  as  Elgar's  orchestral  writing. 

After  the  success  of  the  Leeds  folk-songs 
the  Birmingham  Festival  of  1909  accepted  his 

170 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

setting  of  Edward  Carpenter's  poem,  "A  Song 
at  Midnight."  This  is  quite  as  rhythmical  as 
the  songs,  but  set  for  full  orchestra  and  chorus. 
And  it  is  a  musical  version  of  a  poem  treating 
directly  of  the  conditions  of  modern  life.  It 
deals  in  a  human  way  with  the  sweated  needle- 
woman, using  up  her  last  bit  of  candle ;  with 
the  agonies  of  the  sick,  with  the  remorse  of 
evil-doers ;  with  the  clangour  of  bells  tolling 
the  hours  of  darkness  away,  ringing  the  knell 
of  a  night  of  social  horror.  But  this  Rembrandt- 
like  composition  is  lit  with  hope.  The  music 
and  the  voices  of  singers  proclaim  the  advance 
of  tramping  millions,  marching  through  the 
night  with  the  joyful  hope  of  dawn. 

"  These  are  they  who  dream  the  impossible 
dream/'  is  the  burden  of  this  great  canticle  of 
social  regeneration. 

Certain  features  of  this  led  to  the  conception 
of  a  new  dramatic  form,  Choral  Drama,  in 
which  the  idea  of  the  Greek  chorus  is  united 
with  the  orchestra.  This  of  course  clears 
away  the  difficulty  that  besets  lyrical  drama. 

The  chorus  represents  the  people,  and  stands 
as  it  were  between  the  audience  and  the  prin- 
cipal characters,  combining  the  descriptive 
power  of  massed  voices  with  the  individual 
nature  of  the  legendary  heroes. 

171 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Now  I  believe  that  when  our  choral  forces 
join  with  the  dramatic  in  visualising  and 
vocalising  the  great  sagas  of  our  people,  a 
truly  Shakespearean  development  will  have 
stepped  in. 

While  the  composers  whom  I  have  men- 
tioned are  in  my  opinion  typical  of  this  popular 
tendency,  there  are  many  others  whom  I  have 
included  in  other  studies,  but  of  whom  space 
forbids  mention  here. 

For  instance,  Dr.  Vaughan  Williams,  in  his 
Sea  Symphony,  no  less  than  in  folk-song 
variations,  is  a  power  for  good. 

Francis  Toye  in  the  Boxford  Masque,  and 
men  who,  like  Mr.  Shann  at  Bury  St.  Edmunds, 
organise  village  masques  or  pageants,  are 
typical  of  others  who  all  over  the  country  are 
stirring  the  embers  and  kindling  the  fires  of 
national  consciousness  anew. 

But  the  difficulties,  indeed  the  apathy  with 
which  my  inquiries  have  been  met,  emphasise 
the  need  for  the  centralising  of  all  these  forces 
and  the  keeping  of  a  central  record. 

So  far  the  isolated  worker  in  the  water-tight 
compartments  of  specialised  Arts  has  had  no 
means  of  conferring  and  working  with  his 
fellows. 

Now  I  do  not  suggest  that  the  Shakespeare 
172 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

Memorial  Festival  should  become  a  choral 
meeting.  But  I  believe  that,  by  incorporating 
in  the  scheme  representative  works  such  as  I 
have  outlined,  new  blood  and  new  energy  would 
be  drawn  into  the  Movement.  The  Choral 
North  would  come  to  the  Avon  banks,  and 
their  picked  festival  choruses  could  speak  to 
our  hearts  in  a  language  that  we  understand. 
And  they  in  turn  would  form  the  audience  for 
alternating  Shakespearean  and  Greek  dramatic 
works,  and  the  sedentary  art  of  choral  singing 
would  find  interplay  perhaps  in  Folk  Dancing, 
or  at  least  in  witnessing  the  dancing  in  the 
open  air. 

Instead  of  all  working  separately  with  their 
own  publics  and  methods  they  would  regard 
Stratford  as  a  clearing-house  of  English  Art, 
and  of  Art  more  than  English. 

For  Canada  above  all  cousin  states  has  taken 
song  for  her  Dominion.  Dr.  Harris  with  his 
Canadian  chorus,  with  his  frankly  national 
programmes,  could  draw  tighter  those  bonds 
of  love  that  are  forged  by  the  Song  God.  The 
music  of  Macdowell,  America's  greatest  com- 
poser, could  unite  with  that  of  Elgar  in  a  new 
way. 

Australia,  rich  in  singers  and  poets ;  New 
Zealand,  truly  a  land  of  zeal,  would  be  there. 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Indeed,  from  the  Seven  Seas  would  come  the 
tribes  to  be  sealed  at  Stratford. 

That  unity  of  race  which  has  marked  out 
Judaism  among  the  nations,  would  set  the 
Anglo-Celtic  peoples,  the  Indo-European  race 
at  common  cause. 

And  I  would  have  the  reader  remember 
that,  in  the  past,  the  Dane,  the  Norman,  and 
the  Teuton  have  come  into  our  midst  as  a 
result  of  feud  and  of  battle.  But  I  believe 
that  the  fusion  of  the  future  will  be  not  "of 
garments  rolled  in  blood,"  but  with  the  power 
of  song,  and  by  the  sword  of  the  spirit.  And, 
while  the  politician  may  hope  to  bind  with  a 
bond  metallic,  the  artist  looks  to  the  heart- 
strings. 

Wherever  this  book  wanders,  from  the  very 
heart  of  England's  Stratford  goes  the  race- 
spirit,  which  is  Love — to  you.  Nor  can  .you 
escape  it.  If  the  bloodhound's  scent  be  strong, 
how  much  stronger  the  kinship  that  comes 
down  the  ages. 

And  as  you  read  it,  especially  Indians,  who 
do  not  know  the  kinship  between  our  Arthurian 
cycle  with  your  Ramayana,  remember  before 
the  cosmopolitan  spirit  has  widened  the  breach. 

Nationalism  not  only  reaches  to  the  heart  of 
India,  and  finds  a  homeland  on  every  shore  of 


CHORAL  ART  AND  THE  THEATRE 

the  Seven  Seas,  but  goes  deep  down  into  the 
past,  to  the  first  gleaming  hopes  of  the  race 
before  we  became  tribes,  before  we  began  to 
forget  each  other  as  do  brothers  who  have  lived 
long  in  distant  lands. 

The  Movement  has  reached  a  stage  which 
demands  development. 

Imperial  Federation  is  in  the  air,  yet  never 
was  there  a  time  when  Little  England  was  so 
essentially  the  homeland  of  a  great  people. 

Municipal  reform  expresses  itself  through 
the  universities,  by  means  of  architectural 
training  and  the  art  of  civic  design,  com- 
plemented with  the  efforts  of  garden  cities 
and  town-planning  schemes. 

Beauty  is  becoming  a  part  of  our  practical 
politics,  as  in  "the  spacious  days  of  great 
Elizabeth,"  a  phrase  no  longer  hackneyed  if 
we  care  to  give  it  a  meaning. 

The  time  has  come  to  speak  out :  to  say 
to  the  singers  and  players  of  England,  "  The 
Round  Table  is  spread  " ;  to  the  dramatists, 
"The  Sword  of  Power  that  was  Shakespeare's 
is  set  in  the  stone  four-square.  Let  him  that 
is  king  among  you  draw  it  forth ! "  to  the 
educationists,  "  Behold  in  Stratford  all  that 
England  can  do  in  the  way  of  Art.  Let  the 
children  see  and  hear,  that,  when  they  be 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

grown-up,  they  may  be  an  understanding 
people,  with  joy  and  beauty  in  their  hearts, 
and  with  love  for  us  "  ;  to  the  sages  of-  Eng- 
land, "Come  here  for  your  councils'';  and  to 
the  workmen,  "  Here  is  a  place  where  men 
have  laboured  for  your  joy.  Rest  from  your 
toil  beholding  theirs." 


176 


Photo  by  C.  Histed 


MR.    OSCAR   ASCHE   AS   OTHELLO 


VIII 

THE  PRACTICALITIES  OF  ART 

ART  can  be  practical  without  precept.  A  coal- 
scuttle well  wrought  in  bronze  may  be  as  useful 
as  a  zinc  tub  without  in  any  way  pointing  a 
moral  or  otherwise  destroying  its  beauty. 

And  if  we  take  all  the  Arts  separately  they 
have  their  uses. 

The  architect  who  built  a  house  that  could 
not  be  inhabited  would  stand  in  the  same 
relation  to  his  art  as  the  dramatist  who  pro- 
duced a  work  which  the  common  mind  could 
not  comprehend. 

Beauty  is  the  first  principle  of  Art,  but  fitness 
for  its  purpose  is  a  postulate  without  which  we 
could  not  go  far. 

In  the  earlier  part  of  this  book  we  have 
dealt  with  the  physical  arts  of  Song  and  Dance 
developing  into  the  communal  Art  of  Drama. 

And  in  comparing  various  phases  and  forms 
we  have  seen  that  a  social  quality  therein 
determined  their  interest  both  for  us  and  for 
those  taking  part  in  them. 

177  M 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

Architecture  is  the  body  of  communal  art,  as 
is  drama  its  soul. 

Dramatic  creation  gives  the  conception  of 
beauty,  awakens  the  emotions,  and  guides  us 
through  all  the  regions  of  passion  and  peace. 

Architecture  is  able  to  build  a  home  for  the 
lover  ;  a  workshop  for  the  worker  ;  a  temple 
for  the  worshipper ;  and  a  theatre  for  the 
dreams  of  a  community. 

Therefore  it  seems  to  me  that  in  some  way 
Stratford-upon-Avon  should,  by  means  of  Con- 
gresses or  Exhibitions,  focus  at  her  national 
fount  this  dramaturgy  in  stone  upon  which  the 
outward  form  of  our  future  must  depend.  This 
seems  the  more  desirable  seeing  that  the  place 
of  the  theatre  in  modern  civic  life  is  not 
understood. 

If  Stratford-upon-Avon  is  to  be  more  than  a 
dramatic  Spa  we  must  also  evolve  something 
in  the  way  of  a  University  of  the  Arts,  where 
in  the  most  pleasurable  way  ideas  may  be 
gathered  of  the  kind  of  city  which  the  future 
holds  for  us. 

Shakespeare  certainly  was  no  sociologist. 
But  it  was  not  without  an  object  that  he  gave 
us  "  The  Tempest  "  with  its  types  of  Prospero, 
Caliban,  Trinculo,  and  Gonzalo.  The  forces 
at  work  in  our  midst  are  Idealism,  Animalism 


THE    PRACTICALITIES   OF   ART 

(or  Sin),  and  Flabbyism,  the  half-baked  slippery 
thing  which  is  neither  in  earnest  nor  entirely 
gross. 

In  the  world  to-day  we  have  a  great  many 
Calibans;  the  Trinculos  and  Stephanos  abound; 
while  Prosperos  are  few. 

Surely  Shakespeare  himself  was  Prospero, 
and  in  his  other  characters  was  consciously 
symbolising  the  qualities  of  his  own  day. 
There  is  no  sign  of  allegory  in  "  The  Tempest," 
but  the  grouping  of  characters  :  Ferdinand  and 
Miranda,  the  primal  pair  of  a  period ;  Caliban 
making  the  air  reek  with  his  grossness  while 
Ariel  tunes  it  to  perfumed  loveliness ;  Gonzalo, 
who  knows  all  about  it,  and  the  drinkers  who 
do  not  care  a  button  :  these  are  social  types, 
not  personal  characters,  such  as  Falstaff,  nor 
dramatisations  of  Fate,  Passion,  or  Perversity. 

But  they  are  no  more  the  results  of  conscious 
and  deliberate  artifice  than  was  Wagner's 
"  Tristan  "  or  Mr.  John  Galsworthy's  "  Justice," 
which  caused  Mr.  Winston  Churchill,  then 
Home  Secretary,  to  alter  the  prison  code. 
Mr.  Galsworthy,  who,  with  Masefield  and 
others,  is  of  modern  dramatists  the  most 
Shakespearean,  takes  such  subjects  as  "  Strife  " 
or  "  Justice/'  and  gives  you  the  ramifications  of 
the  central  passion,  as  it  flows  red  through  the 

179 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

veins  of  living  man.  He  does  not  take  sides, 
but  lets  such  questions  as  Capital  versus  Labour 
and  the  prison  question  provide  the  dramatic 
interest  of  his  plays. 

And  I  take  Galsworthy  as  a  type  because 
he  never  lays  down  the  law.  He  is  neither  a 
preacher  who  has  mistaken  his  profession  nor 
an  aimless  aesthete  wasting  his  own  time  and 
ours.  He  has  proved  that  the  life  of  our  own 
day  may  be  dramatic. 

Masefield,  too,  in  his  "  Pompey  the  Great/1 
has  succeeded  in  writing  a  Roman  play,  which 
is  topical  to-day.  The  problems  of  Rome  and 
the  humanities  of  Romans  are  interesting  to 
us  in  so  far  as  they  were  true  to  their  time. 
There  is  no  cold  classicalism  about  it ;  the 
writing  is  rhythmic  without  formality  ;  and  the 
use  of  the  sailor's  chanty  in  the  great  concluding 
scene  reminds  one  not  only  that  John  Mase- 
field has  been  a  sailor  and  is  a  poet,  but  that 
the  Greek  Chorus  can  be  reborn  to  us  in  many 
forms  and  with  perfect  results.  The  historical 
drama  did  not  die  with  Shakespeare,  and 
politics  to-day  differ  only  from  those  of  ancient 
Rome  in  scene  and  setting. 

In  treating  such  a  question  as  the  practicality 
of  Art  there  is  a  danger  of  offending  both(sides. 
If  one  say  that  the  drama  is  a  pleasurable 

i  So 


THE    PRACTICALITIES   OF   ART 

interest,  not  a  method  of  teaching,  the  earnest 
man  is  disappointed.  And  when  one  turns  to 
the  dissolute  dabblers  who  have  spoiled  the 
contemporary  stage,  they  meet  one  with  the 
cry,  "  Drama  is  an  amusement,  not  a  source 
of  education." 

What  is  the  truth  ? 

The  plain  facts  are  these  : — 

(a)  The  habitual  amusement  of  our  deformed 
and  defiled  cities  no  longer  is  pleasurable  to 
normal  people  ;  nor  would  it  have  found  favour 
in  any  robust  or  intellectual  age. 

(&)  But,  along  with  town-planning  and  hous- 
ing reform,  folk-dancing  and  the  awaking 
patriotism  of  the  race,  new  conditions  of  life 
are  coming  into  being,  and  Pleasure  and  Art 
once  more  are  coming  together. 

That  town  -  planning,  the  Shakespearean 
drama,  folk-art,  and  the  race-spirit  are  not 
separate  subjects,  but  one  and  indivisible ;  and 
that  the  Arts  differ  only  in  method,  but  all  are 
meant  to  express  the  health  and  joy  of  man, 
is  no  isolated  opinion. 

Professor  Geddes,  both  in  his  writings  and 
lectures,  in  his  work  for  the  Dunfermline  civic 
experiments,  and  in  his  exhibits  at  the  Out- 
look Tower,  Edinburgh,  was  among  the  first 
to  co-ordinate  these  various  phases  into  one 

181 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

subject.  And  Mr.  Brassington,  the  Memorial 
Librarian,  is  a  strong  advocate  of  a  University 
of  the  Arts.1 

If  the  reader  should  be  sceptical  as  to  a  new 
order  of  civic  life  a  few  historical  facts  would 
not  come  amiss. 

I  repeat  that  the  drama  must  not  preach 
regeneration,  but  itself  must  be  regenerate  as 
the  expression  and  the  inspiration  of  practical 
effort.  Hence  the  relationship  to  town-plan- 
ning. In  1902  the  villages  of  Letchworth, 
Norton,  and  Willian  contained  about  700 
inhabitants.  A  company  was  formed  to  take 
over  the  estate  and  to  realise  the  ideas  of  a 
city  which  Mr.  Ebenezer  Howard  had  set  out 
in  his  "  Garden  Cities  of  To-morrow."  His 
scheme  was,  briefly,  as  follows  :— 

(a)  To  erect  good  houses  and  cottages,  each 
with  its  plot  of  land. 

(&)  To  encourage  manufactories,  which  were 
to  be  restricted  to  a  certain  area,  separate  from 
the  residential  part. 

(c)  To  bind  the  whole  together  in  a  unified 
and  organic  way  by  an  agricultural  belt. 

1  These  I  mention,  among  others,  to  disclaim  originality 
in  the  matter.  And  Mr.  Benson,  of  whom  I  cannot  speak 
freely  in  this  volume,  comprehends  this  essential  unity  of 
life.— R.  R.  B. 

182 


THE    PRACTICALITIES   OF   ART 

This  plan  was  so  worked  out  that  over- 
crowding became  impossible,  and,  when  the 
population  has  grown  to  about  30,000,  de- 
velopment will  cease. 

By  the  end  of  1910  about  7500  inhabitants 
were  established  there  with  more  than  twenty 
factories  of  various  kinds,  including  printing 
works,  a  tapestry  guild,  and  the  Iceni  pottery. 
Nor  was  this  all. 

Being  its  own  landlord  the  Company  could 
enforce  a  decent  regard  for  health  and  beauty. 

The  inhabitants,  many  of  them  attracted  to 
the  place  as  a  possible  field  for  social  and  artistic 
experiment,  set  great  store  by  the  drama. 

Not  only  does  their  Dramatic  Society  produce 
plays  of  the  better  kind,  but  each  year  a  local 
pantomime,  in  the  form  of  a  satire  upon  their 
own  social  experiment,  has  enlivened  the  place. 
Letchworth  Garden  City  is  a  standing  proof  that 
the  city  as  we  know  it  is  not  an  ordinance  of 
Providence,  but  a  temporary  phase,  born  of 
accident  and  misdirected  energy.  Letchworth 
provides  an  example  of  a  new,  organic  com- 
munity, springing  up,  not  from  accident,  but  as 
the  result  of  a  preconceived  plan. 

At  Knebworth  Lord  Lytton  is  developing 
a  garden  city  on  similar  lines,  while  garden 
suburbs  are  growing  up  all  over  the  country. 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

At  Bournville  and  Port  Sunlight  large  manu- 
facturers have  grouped  similar  communities 
around  their  works,  thus  bringing  healthy  con- 
ditions within  the  means  of  their  employees. 

I  admit  that  these  experiments  are  social  and 
architectural  rather  than  dramatic. 

But,  with  a  well-ordered  society,  public  taste 
will  awaken  to  the  finer  and  more  delightful 
aspects  of  life. 

Of  course,  being  modern  and  without  any 
central  tradition  and  guide,  these  new  cities  are 
not  destined  to  be  centres  of  national  gather- 
ings, stimulating  though  they  certainly  are. 
And  this  is  where  practical  and  ideal  unite. 

Unless  I  am  much  mistaken  civic  design, 
including  agricultural  and  artistic  develop- 
ment, will  find  its  fulfilment  at  Stratford-upon- 
Avon. 

Apart  from  the  Theatre  the  development  of 
Stratford  naturally  would  be  upon  the  lines  of 
Professor  Geddes'  "  Study  in  City  Develop- 
ment." For,  not  being  a  garden  city,  but  a 
borough  with  a  great  tradition  and  natural 
beauty,  nothing  is  needed  save  the  carrying 
out  of  the  few  suggestions  which  follow. 

The  Grammar  School  of  King  Edward  VI. 
can  trace  its  actual  origin  to  the  Ancient  Guild 
of  the  Holy  Cross,  before  1269.  This  Guild 

184 


THE    PRACTICALITIES   OF    ART 

was  threatened  by  Henry  VIII.  but  escaped 
suppression,  being  however  reconstituted  in 
the  next  reign.  This  fact  would  be  known  to 
Shakespeare  before  he  conceived  his  "  Henry 
VIII.,"  and  probably  was  not  forgotten  in 
writing  it, 

The  Parish  Church,  close  to  the  river,  marks 
the  resting-place  of  Shakespeare  and  maintains 
its  spiritual  uses.  Its  cruciform  shape,  the  old 
sanctuary  knocker,  and  memorials  of  names 
well  known  in  the  spacious  days  of  the  last 
great  revival  of  national  and  artistic  feeling, 
bind  us  to  the  past. 

Nor  does  the  Theatre  stand  alone.  With  it 
are  the  Picture  Gallery  and  Library. 

And  near  the  Theatre  stands  the  great  statue 
and  monument  by  Lord  Ronald  Sutherland 
Gower. 

Thus  we  have  the  elements  of  civic  life :  the 
School,  Church,  Library,  Picture  Gallery,  and 
Theatre. 

So  that  in  suggesting  that  Stratford  should 
be,  more  than  it  is,  a  Festival  place  and  Folk- 
Meet  for  the  race,  the  claim  is  not  made  with- 
out the  existence  of  the  elements  essential  to 
such  an  idea.  Many  cities  have  these  things, 
but  nowhere  else  has  been  so  favoured  by 
fortune,  nor  is  there  any  borough  in  England 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

that  combines  to  this  degree  the  essential 
qualities  of  city  and  country. 

How  far  Stratford  can  go  on  garden  city 
lines  is  a  matter  of  detail  for  its  burgesses. 

But  its  artistic  development  depends  upon 
the  ability  of  national  scholars  and  artists  to 
render  it  as  unsurpassable  as  Venice  in  her 
splendour  ;  and  upon  the  capacity  of  the  people 
for  pleasure,  and  for  labour. 

One  of  Professor  Geddes'  most  fruitful  ideas 
is  that  each  town  or  city  should  so  organise 
the  playful  energy  of  boys  as  to  get  them  to 
construct  a  primitive  village.  If,  with  the 
guidance  of  a  practical  and  scholarly  man, 
they  dig  the  cave  of  the  troglodyte  and  build 
the  primitive  hut,  they  will  have  made  a 
valuable  study  in  sociology.  For  from  the 
early  activities  of  mankind  they  can  be  led 
in  magic  succession  from  point  to  point.  Thus 
will  they  be  educated. 

Gradually  a  village  could  be  built,  revealing 
the  origin  and  practice  of  handicrafts. 

An  Art  Museum,  and  a  Rock  Garden  for 
the  proper  study  of  geology  and  botany,  could 
be  evolved.  Thus  would  Stratford  become  of 
enormous  educational  interest  to  the  people. 

Professor  Geddes  goes  so  far  as  to  suggest 
the  organisation  of  Jd.  donkey  rides,  so  that 

186 


THE    PRACTICALITIES   OF   ART 

the  healthy  pleasures  of  the  seaside  also  could 
be  enjoyed.  A  sand-pit  would  extend  this 
idea.  So  there  is  no  reason  why  the  children 
should  not  see  "  The  Piper  "  and  Shakespeare 
under  festival  conditions. 

In  fact,  there  is  no  joy  in  life  or  useful 
knowledge  that  could  not  well  be  grafted  upon 
the  existing  organisations  of  this  God-given 
town. 

Support  can  be  given  by  the  simple  means 
of  spending  holidays  there,  or  by  endowment 
of  some  special  feature. 

The  Theatre  is  bound  by  its  articles  to 
divide  no  profits,  but  to  use  them  for  develop- 
ment. Like  the  School  or  Church  it  is  not  a 
speculative  enterprise. 

And  when  one  thinks  of  what  Andrew 
Carnegie  has  done  for  Dunfermline  by  putting 
into  practice  Professor  Geddes'  ideas  and  his 
own,  it  seems  certain  that  in  good  time  Strat- 
ford will  be  able  to  show  the  world  a  system  of 
organised  beauty  that  will  purify  the  life  of 
the  many  cities  that  may  follow  the  example. 

For  instance,  a  social  club,  furnished  simply 
to  represent  the  art  and  economy  of  the  home, 
would  set  a  standard  for  all  who  saw  it,  while 
the  living  drama  and  calm  beauty  of  the  place 
would  stimulate  the  intellect  and  emotions,  so 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

that  souls  dimmed  by  civilisation  would  find 
themselves  become  not  copyists  but  original 
and  individual  men  and  women. 

Viewed  solely  as  a  place  of  summer-holiday, 
in  which  the  delights  of  Shakespearean  art 
mingle  with  the  pleasures  of  mediaeval  memory 
and  the  exhilaration  of  sunlight  and  fresh  air, 
Stratford-upon-Avon  makes  a  strong  appeal. 

But  how  much  more  alluring  is  the  Piper's 
tune,  the  spell  that  lures  grown-ups  and  children 
along  the  bright  ways  of  Art ! 

And  those  of  us  who  love  the  name  of 
Shakespeare,  and  hear  his  full  tone  best  in  the 
place  of  his  birth,  see  more  than  this. 

For  where  men  meet  in  brotherhood  there 
begins  a  strong  peace  and  a  blood-pact.  The 
spirit  of  the  Folk-Meet  binds  us  and  we  are 
one  people,  bound  by  a  common  Fatherhood 
and  a  mutual  joy. 

And  our  dreams,  whether  of  Life  or  the 
living  Art,  become  holy,  and  our  aims  gain  a 
common  purpose,  for  England  is  the  heart  of 
the  Anglo-Celtic  people,  and  Stratford  Eng- 
land's heart,  beating  with  all  the  loyal  love 
which  is  ours  to  give  and  to  gain. 


1 88 


FOLK    ART 

BY  MARY  NEAL 


I 

THE  STRATFORD  -  UPON  -  AVON  FESTIVAL 
MOVEMENT  AND  ITS  DEVELOPMENTS 

No  more  suitable  spot  could  have  been  chosen 
for  a  theatre  devoted  to  such  ideals  as  those  of 
the  Shakespearean  Memorial  than  Stratford- 
upon-Avon.  Alike  for  the  beauty  of  the  little 
old-world  town  and  of  its  surrounding  country, 
and  for  its  associations  as  the  birthplace  of 
Shakespeare,  it  is  beloved  on  both  sides  of  the 
Atlantic,  and  makes  an  ideal  meeting-ground 
for  all  the  English-speaking  people. 

The  Theatre  is  built  in  the  midst  of  a  beauti- 
ful garden  on  the  banks  of  the  river  Avon. 
Time  has  already  mellowed  its  walls  and  begun 
to  cover  them  with  ivy  and  trailing  greenery. 
At  Stratford,  on  a  summer's  day,  with  the 
Theatre  doors  open  on  to  the  river,  radiant  in 
sunshine,  and  with  its  pollard  willows  making 
a  delicate  green  shadow,  and  with  one's  ears 
full  of  the  rhythm  of  Shakespeare's  verse,  one 
might  well  be  back  in  the  days  when  men  saw 

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THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

in  all  beauty,  whether  of  colour  or  sound  or 
movement,  some  symbol  of  the  gods  they 
worshipped.  And  there  is  no  jar  between  the 
play  inside  its  walls  and  the  surroundings  in 
which  one  can  walk  between  the  acts  and  after 
the  play  is  over,  all  is  so  different  from  the 
crowded  city  street  into  which  so  many  theatres 
open  in  other  places.  Here  all  is  peaceful  and 
idyllic,  and  helpful  to  the  best  understanding 
of  our  national  drama. 

This  means  that  in  the  very  heart  of  England, 
close  not  only  to  the  countryside  with  its  rural 
traditions  but  to  the  manufacturing  towns,  not 
less  intrinsically  part  of  the  national  life,  is  a 
theatre,  intended  by  its  founders  to  keep  alive 
the  love  of  all  that  is  most  characteristic  of 
English  dramatic  art. 

The  Shakespeare  Memorial  Theatre  (to  give 
its  official  and  registered  title)  is  owned  and 
managed  by  an  Association  of  Governors,  the 
chief  part  of  the  practical  work  being  in  the 
hands  of  a  committee  of  management.  The 
Corporation  of  Stratford-upon-Avon  is  repre- 
sented ex  officio  among  the  Governors  by  the 
Mayor  and  six  aldermen,  and  the  remainder  of 
the  body  is  composed  of  people  of  position  in 
the  county  or  the  borough,  or  of  eminence  in 
literature,  art,  or  the  drama. 

192 


Photo  by  Ellis  &  Walery 


MR.  HENRY  AINLEY  AS   ROMEO 


THE   FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

In  addition  to  the  actual  Theatre,  the  Shake- 
speare Memorial  comprises  also  a  Library  and 
Picture  Gallery,  both  of  which  contain  much 
that  is  of  special  interest  to  those  who  visit 
Stratford-upon-Avon,  as  well  as  a  tower,  from 
the  top  of  which  can  be  seen  the  country,  the 
villages,  and  the  distant  hills  which  Shake- 
speare knew  from  boyhood  to  his  last  years. 

The  Library  and  the  very  comfortable 
Reading-room  are  on  the  ground  floor.  The 
Memorial  Library  contains  some  10,000  books 
and  pamphlets,  including  several  of  the  early 
quartos  and  all  the  first  four  folios,  1623,  1632, 
1664,  and  1685.  Here,  too,  is  Garrick's  own 
copy  of  Rowe's  edition,  1 709  ;  and  here  are 
nearly  all  the  collected  editions  ever  published 
in  the  English  language,  including  some  of 
the  now  very  scarce  early  American  editions. 
Here  is  also  a  unique  collection  of  transla- 
tions of  Shakespeare  into  foreign  tongues, 
some  thirty  languages,  including  many  Indian 
dialects,  Japanese  and  Chinese,  being  re- 
presented. Truly  a  wonderful  collection,  a 
wonderful  tribute  to  the  genius  of  the  greatest 
of  Englishmen. 

Other  valuable  books  of  Shakespeareana, 
dramatic  history,  English  drama,  local  topo- 
graphy, heraldry,  archaeology,  and  general 

193  N 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

reference  add  to  the  interest  of  the  collection, 
and  all  these  works  may  be  studied  by  any 
one  who  procures  a  reader's  ticket  from  the 
Librarian. 

The  Library  has  a  small  endowment,  besides 
a  special  fund  raised  by  the  present  Librarian  ; 
but,  of  course,  any  bequests  or  donations  of 
money  or  of  books  required  are  welcome,  and 
such  a  gift  is  no  bad  way  of  linking  the  donor 
with  the  town  and  memory  of  Shakespeare. 
The  Reading-room  is  open  to  visitors,  and  the 
Memorial  Librarian,  Mr.  W.  Salt  Brassington, 
F.S.A.,  is  always  ready  to  give  students  and 
inquirers  the  benefit  of  his  learning  and 
advice.  Without  further  description  it  may 
be  said  that  the  Library  is  one  in  which  the 
Shakespearean  student  will  find  all  that  he  can 
desire. 

The  Picture  Gallery  contains  some  notable 
paintings.  First  there  is  the  famous  portrait 
of  William  Shakespeare,  painted  on  a  panel 
in  the  Italian  style  and  dating  from  the  early 
part  of  the  seventeenth  century ;  it  is  quite 
possible  that  this  is  the  original  of  the  Martin 
Droeshout  engraving  which  appears  opposite 
the  title-page  in  the  first  folio  of  the  plays 
(1623).  The  portrait  is  painted  on  two  planks 
of  old  English  elm,  prepared  with  white  plaster, 

194 


THE   FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

primed  red,  and  bearing  in  the  top  left-hand 
corner  the  inscription,  "  William  Shakespeare, 
1609."  This  picture  has  been  pronounced,  on 
the  unimpeachable  authority  of  leading  con- 
noisseurs, to  be  a  genuine  early  seventeenth 
century  painting.  That  it  represents  the  same 
man  as  the  engraving  in  the  first  folio  no 
one  can  doubt.  The  only  question  on  which 
scholars  disagree  is  this  :  Was  the  engraving 
made  from  the  picture,  or  was  the  picture 
painted  from  the  engraving  ? 

Other  portraits  of  Shakespeare  here  collected 
are  a  photograph  of  the  Droeshout  engraving, 
the  "Venice"'  portrait,  the  "  Jacob  Tonson" 
portrait,  the  "  Willett "  portrait,  the  D'Avenant 
bust — a  copy  of  the  original  in  the  Garrick  Club, 
London,  which  was  discovered  in  1845  bricked 
up  in  the  wall  of  the  old  "Duke's  Theatre" 
in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields — and  the  "Napier" 
portrait ;  while  at  the  foot  of  the  stairs  stands 
a  copy  of  the  statue  of  1740  in  Westminster 
Abbey  by  Kent  and  Scheemakers.  It  need 
hardly  be  said  that  none  of  these  have  the 
authority  of  the  Droeshout  engraving  and 
portrait,  or  of  the  bust  on  the  monument  in 
Holy  Trinity  Church. 

In  view  of  the  excellence  of  the  catalogue, 
we  must  resist  the  temptation   to  linger  over 

195 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

the  hundreds  of  drawings,  paintings,  engrav- 
ings, miniatures,  and  relics  of  Shakespearean 
scenes  and  characters,  of  famous  actors  and 
actresses,  of  dead  and  bygone  productions, 
which  the  generosity  of  students,  scholars, 
players,  and  Shakespeareans  of  England, 
Europe,  and  America  has  brought  together 
within  these  walls.  The  collection  is  increas- 
ing in  importance  and  size  every  year,  and  the 
problem  of  space  will  soon  become  a  serious 
one. 

A  stone's-throw  from  the  original  group  of 
buildings  of  the  Memorial  there  is  also  a 
Lecture-room,  which  has  a  small  stage  for  the 
purposes  of  lectures,  recitals,  or  concerts.  This 
hall  is  used  as  a  club-room  for  visitors  during 
the  annual  Festivals,  and  as  a  gallery  for  the 
exhibition  of  pictures  on  loan. 

Of  the  actual  record  of  Shakespearean  and 
other  performances  given  in  the  course  of  the 
thirty-four  years'  existence  of  the  Memorial 
Theatre,  some  account  has  already  been  given 
in  the  opening  chapter  of  this  volume,  but  the 
present  brief  consideration  of  the  varied  in- 
terests grouped  around  the  several  departments 
of  the  Memorial  building  brings  us  back  appro- 
priately to  the  subject  of  the  annual  Shake- 
speare Festival.  Every  year,  for  three  weeks, 

196 


THE   FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

beginning  as  near  as  possible  to  April  23 
(St.  George's  Day,  and  the  traditional  day 
of  Shakespeare's  birth),  Stratford-upon-Avon 
holds  a  festival  of  Shakespeare  which  is 
attended  by  numbers  of  visitors  from  all  parts 
of  England,  and  not  a  few  from  other  parts  of 
the  Empire,  from  the  United  States  and  the 
countries  of  Europe.  If  the  reader  were  to 
find  himself  in  Bridge  Street  on  the  morning 
of  the  opening  day  of  a  Festival,  he  would  see 
it  a  brilliant  avenue  of  flags,  banners,  shields, 
and  decorations,  some  made  in  Stratford  and 
given  from  afar.  At  the  head  of  the  street 
stands  the  flagstaff  bearing  the  huge  Union 
Jack  presented  by  the  King.  Near  it  is 
the  flag  of  Wales,  presented  by  the  Prince 
of  Wales,  and  the  long  line  of  flagstaffs 
down  the  wide  street  bears  the  standards  also 
of  Scotland,  Ireland,  the  Colonies,  and  all  the 
King's  dominions  beyond  the  seas,  and  of  all 
the  nations  of  the  world,  all  presented  by  their 
official  representatives  in  England.  The  shields 
of  all  nations  are  here  too,  for  Shakespeare  is 
the  world's  property  and  all  peoples  combine 
to  do  him  honour.  At  one  minute  to  the 
hour  appointed  all  these  flags  are  still  furled  ; 
but  round  them  are  grouped  the  ambassadors 
or  other  representatives  of  various  countries 

197 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

who  have  come  to  take  part  in  the  Festival ; 
and  as  the  clock  strikes  each  pulls  the  cord 
which  looses  his  country's  flag  to  the  breeze. 
Simultaneously  the  band  strikes  up,  and  the 
crowd  of  spectators,  the  boys  from  the  Grammar 
School,  and  the  children  of  the  town  join  in  the 
National  Anthem. 

On  April  23,  which  is  celebrated  as  the 
poet's  birthday,  a  procession  passes  along  the 
gaily  decorated  streets,  each  of  which  bears 
its  particular  message  expressed  in  its  colours 
and  designs,  down  to  the  Parish  Church  of 
the  Holy  Trinity,  where  Shakespeare  was 
baptized  and  where  he  lies  buried.  Flowers 
are  here  in  profusion,  for  when  the  brief 
service,  with  its  address  and  its  music,  is  over, 
every  visitor  present  will  place  a  wreath  or 
a  bouquet,  be  it  only  a  school-child's  bunch  of 
flowers,  on  the  tomb  of  Shakespeare.  On  the 
way  back  from  the  Church  the  visitor  will  pro- 
bably fall  in  with  the  famous  troop  of  morris- 
dancers  from  a  neighbouring  village,  with  their 
quaint  costumes  hung  with  bells  and  their  gaily 
beribboned  knees  and  hats,  dancing  with  un- 
flagging energy  a  dance  in  which  Shakespeare 
himself  may  often  have  joined,  a  dance  that, 
in  its  origin  and  symbolism,  goes  back  to 
time  immemorial.  In  the  afternoon  there  is  a 

198 


THE    FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

reception  at  the  Town  Hall  by  the  Shakespeare 
Club,  at  which  the  Mayor  acts  as  host ;  and 
the  town  is  en  fete  all  day  until  night  comes 
and  it  is  time  to  go  to  the  Theatre. 

In  recent  years  there  has  been  established 
an  annual  exhibition  of  works  of  art,  house- 
hold utensils  and  furniture,  tapestry,  and  curios 
illustrating  mediaeval  and  Elizabethan  times, 
or  of  some  special  play  of  the  period.  These 
exhibitions,  it  is  hoped,  will  eventually  become 
a  Folk  Museum  in  which  will  be  traced  the 
agricultural,  industrial,  and  artistic  life  of  Eng- 
land from  earliest  times  until  the  present  day. 

Old  English  sports  hold  a  place  during  the 
Festival,  and  include  wrestling,  quarter-staff, 
single-stick,  fencing,  skipping,  and  old  English 
dancing. 

On  May  Day  a  special  Festival  for  the 
children  of  Stratford  -  upon  -  Avon  and  the 
surrounding  district  has  been  arranged  by 
Mrs.  F.  R.  Benson,  and  there  are  those  who 
think  this  one  of  the  most  charming  attrac- 
tions of  the  whole  Festival.  Mrs.  Benson 
loves  the  children,  and  understands  that  they 
must  dance  and  sing  out  of  the  joy  of  their 
hearts  if  it  is  to  be  a  real  May  Festival  and 
not  a  mere  spectacle  for  grown-up  folks  or  an 
extra  lesson  for  the  children.  The  coming  of 

199 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

May  Day  is  a  sign  for  a  well-known  dancer  to 
appear  and  fiddle  for  the  children  of  Stratford 
and  of  Ilmington,  the  latter  following  him  as 
the  children  followed  the  Pied  Piper  of 
Hamelin.  He  regards  himself  as  "  Mrs. 
Benson's  friend,"  and  nothing  would  keep 
him  from  helping  her  in  the  May  Day  revel. 
Down  the  street  the  children  dance,  and  into 
the  Theatre  gardens,  where  the  Festival  takes 
place. 

It  is  not  necessary  to  enlarge  on  the  value 
of  the  work  done  during  all  these  years  in 
connection  with  the  Theatre  at  Stratford-upon- 
Avon  by  Mr.  F.  R.  Benson.  The  townsfolk  of 
Stratford  showed  their  appreciation  of  it  in 
1910  when  he  was  presented  with  the  free- 
dom of  the  city  as  a  token  of  their  loyalty 
to  him  and  to  his  ideals.  This  is  a  distinc- 
tion which  has  not  been  accorded  to  any  one 
since  the  day  when  Garrick  received  the  same 
honour. 

It  is  three  hundred  years  since  there  was 
incarnated  in  the  personality  of  Shakespeare 
all  England's  best  ideals  of  national  life,  and, 
since  these  were  manifested  in  his  dramas, 
we,  to-day,  are  beginning  to  understand  what 
these  dramas  mean,  and  to  perceive  to  what 
high  purpose  his  art  can  be  made  to  serve 

200 


THE   FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

both  as  a  means  of  education  and  of  recreation, 
and  as  an  instrument  for  keeping  alive  in  towns 
and  villages  the  traditions  and  memories  of 
heroes  and  of  heroic  deeds. 

We  believe  that  the  work  of  the  Memorial 
Theatre  will  be  much  enlarged  as  its  purpose 
is  better  understood  and  more  widely  known. 

From  it  will  come  the  representation  of 
classic  and  modern  drama  that  will  set  the  note 
of  England's  best  achievement ;  and  attached 
to  it  will  be  a  School  of  Acting,  to  belong 
to  which  will  be  a  guarantee  of  excellence  of 
technique  and  of  the  possession  of  true  artistic 
gifts. 

Thus  the  Stratford-upon-Avon  Shakespeare 
Memorial  Theatre  will  stand  in  the  future  as 
it  has  done  in  the  past  for  an  intelligent  and 
perceptive  patriotism,  having  a  due  apprecia- 
tion of  all  that  is  best  in  the  past  history  of  our 
race  and  of  all  that  is  most  worth  encouraging 
in  the  future,  which  is  still  ours  to  mould  as 
we  will. 

In  May  1909  a  meeting  was  held  in  the 
Memorial  Picture  Gallery  at  Stratford-upon- 
Avon  to  consider  the  possibility  of  making  the 
work  of  the  Theatre  and  of  the  Festival  better 
known. 

Plans  were  also  made  for  a  second  Festival, 
201 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

which  has  since  been  successfully  inaugurated, 
in  July  and  August,  for  the  convenience  of 
those  who  for  various  reasons  could  not  attend 
in  April  and  May,  and  also  for  visitors  from 
the  Colonies,  the  United  States,  and  other 
countries. 

It  was  also  felt  that  the  time  had  come  when 
an  attempt  should  be  made  to  gather  round 
the  Theatre  those  who  in  various  ways  were 
working  in  the  interests  of  art  and  who  per- 
ceived in  dancing,  music,  song,  and  games 
those  regenerative  forces  which  were  helping 
to  restore  to  the  English  people  their  inherit- 
ance of  joy  and  of  strength,  so  long  held  in 
abeyance  through  the  invading  evils  of  over- 
crowded city  life. 

The  late  Mr.  Edward  Burrows,  one  of 
H.M.  Inspectors  of  Schools,  was  present.  He 
had  long  been  a  warm  supporter  of  all  that  would 
lead  to  a  fuller  and  happier  life  for  the  children 
in  our  schools,  and  had  been  one  of  the  first 
to  welcome  the  revival  of  folk-song  and  dance, 
and  to  realise  its  value  as  an  educative  and 
recreative  force. 

Mr.  F.  R.  Benson  reminded  those  present 
that  the  original  founders  of  the  Memorial 
Theatre  had  evidently  foreseen  that  the  work 
would  extend  in  many  directions,  and  had 

202 


THE    FESTIVAL    MOVEMENT 

made  provision  for  this  extension  in  the 
Articles  of  Association. 

It  will  be  well  to  insert  here  the  article  to 
which  Mr.  Benson  referred.  The  objects  of 
the  Association  include  :— 

(a)  The  building  of  a  theatre  at  Stratford- 
upon-Avon  to  be  dedicated  to  the  memory  of 
Shakespeare. 

(H)  The  annual  celebration  in  a  fitting 
manner  of  Shakespeare's  birthday. 

(c]  The  advancement  and  improvement  of 
the  dramatic  art,  by  the  establishment  and 
maintenance  of  a  School  of  Acting,  the  delivery 
of  lectures,  the  establishment  of  prizes  for 
essays,  and  other  means. 

(d}  The  effecting  the  objects  aforesaid  or 
any  of  them,  either  alone  or  conjointly  with 
any  scientific,  literary,  or  other  society  or 
institution. 

A  long  and  earnest  discussion  followed,  and 
the  main  idea  of  the  Conference  was  eventually 
formulated  in  the  following  words  :  It  is  pro- 
posed to  hold  a  supplementary  season  in  the 
summer,  about  the  end  of  July  and  the  begin- 
ning of  August,  for  the  benefit  of  the  Colonial, 
American,  and  foreign  visitors.  At  this  season 
it  is  also  proposed  to  give  in  the  Theatre  and 
out  of  doors  special  plays  and  performances  of 

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THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

a  pageant  nature  for  the  benefit  of  associations, 
schools,  universities,  and  to  arrange  camps  for 
students,  boy  scouts,  and  children. 

Thus  began  what  promises  to  be  a  new 
epoch  in  the  history  of  the  Memorial  Theatre 
and  its  surrounding  agencies. 

The  time  for  this  new  development,  which 
will  carry  the  spirit  of  Shakespeare  and  all 
that  is  involved  in  his  dramas  into  ever  wider 
and  wider  spheres,  was  well  chosen.  To  those 
who  have  eyes  to  see  and  ears  to  hear  it  is 
abundantly  evident  that  there  is  to-day  an 
awakening  throughout  the  length  and  breadth 
of  England.  It  is  an  awakening  of  national 
consciousness  and  of  national  responsibility.  It 
involves  a  race-consciousness  that  will  over- 
come class  prejudice,  and  that  will  unite  the 
dwellers  in  all  parts  of  the  Empire  in  that  it 
means  a  new  Imperial  ideal.  All  over  the 
world  and  in  all  nations  the  cosmopolitan  ideal 
is  being  realised  as  false  except  for  purposes 
of  trade,  commerce,  and  for  certain  material 
conveniences.  In  art,  in  high  politics,  in  its 
true  and  inner  life  each  nation  must  carve  its 
own  destiny  according  to  its  own  distinctive 
individuality  and  the  special  gifts  with  which 
it  has  been  entrusted. 

The  renaissance  of  this  individual  race- 
204 


THE    FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

consciousness  is  to-day  in  England  finding  an 
outward  and  visible  sign  in  a  revival  of  folk- 
art  in  drama,  dance  music,  and  song,  and  in 
a  love  of  nature  and  outdoor  life.  In  legend 
and  folk-tale  we  are  relearning  the  age-long 
wisdom  of  the  folk  which  has  always  had  its 
roots  deep  in  the  traditions  of  the  English 
people.  We  are  beginning  to  distrust  the 
generalisations  gathered  on  the  surface  of  the 
hurrying  life  of  to-day,  and  we  are  looking 
deeper  into  the  heart  of  England  for  some  of 
those  qualities  without  which  no  nation  can 
fulfil  its  highest  destiny. 

And  it  is  in  this  development  of  our  own 
highest  ideals  that  we  shall  learn  to  understand 
the  peoples  of  other  countries  whose  outward 
characteristics  may  differ  widely  from  our  own, 
and  it  is  on  these  lines  that  the  lasting  comity 
of  nations  will  eventually  come  about,  and  not 
by  racial  wars  nor  by  a  surface  glozing  over 
of  national  differences. 

The  evidences  of  this  awakening  are  all 
around  us  in  England  to-day.  In  cities  and 
in  towns  young  men  and  women  are  spending 
the  hours  of  recreation  in  singing  the  folk- 
songs and  dancing  the  folk-dances  evolved 
from  the  tillers  of  the  soil,  as  an  expression  of 
race-consciousness  in  religious  ceremonial  no 

205 


THE   SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

less  than  of  joy  in  everyday  work  and  life. 
They  are  also  acting  and  reciting  the  master- 
pieces of  English  literature  with  tone  and 
gesture  which  would  have  been  an  impossible 
achievement  ten  or  twenty  years  ago.  Children, 
too,  are  being  taught  in  folk-games  some  of  the 
deepest  lessons  yet  learned  by  the  human  race. 
That  this  last  statement  may  not  seem  far 
fetched  an  instance  may  here  be  given. 

A  very  favourite  game  is  called  "  London 
Bridge/'  It  tells  of  the  breaking  down  of  a 
great  and  important  bridge.  It  tells  in 
nonsense  rhyme  of  different  suggestions  for 
building  it  again  : — 

"Build  it  up  with  pins. and  needles; 
Build  it  up  with  penny  loaves ; 
Build  it  up  with  gold  and  silver," 

until  at  last  with  apparent  irrelevance  come 
the  words  : — 

"  Here's  a  prisoner  we  have  got, 
My  fair  lady." 

There  is  an  evidently  made  up  charge  against 
the  prisoner  of  having  stolen  a  watch  and  chain, 
an  offer  of  ransom,  and  a  final  leading  of  the 
victim  to  prison,  on  failure  to  find  the  required 
ransom. 

206 


THE    FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

It  is  well  authenticated  that  in  ancient  days 
human  sacrifices  were  laid  at  the  foundation- 
stones  of  important  buildings,  and  that  in  later 
and  more  humane  days  treasure  in  gold  and 
silver  was  substituted  for  the  human  life. 

And  so  in  this  child's  game  we  see  handed 
down  in  symbol  the  age-long  truth  that  no  great 
work  can  last  unless  founded  upon  the  sacrifice 
of  self,  that  no  bridge  can  be  built  across  which 
humanity  shall  walk  to  higher  life  unless  under- 
neath and  at  its  foundation  is  human  life  and 
human  service. 

And  the  English  country-side  is  also  alive 
to-day  with  this  rebirth  of  our  national  in- 
heritance of  folk-art.  In  remote  villages 
miracle  plays,  pageants  of  history,  folk-songs, 
and  folk-dances  are  studied  during  long  winter 
evenings  to  make  merry  the  days  when  the 
sun  shines  and  life  can  be  lived  out  of  doors. 

In  schools,  eyes  and  hands  are  being  trained 
to  a  new  dexterity,  and  bare  school  walls  are 
gay  with  the  colours  of  the  beautiful  brushwork 
done  by  tiny  children  in  infant  schools.  At 
Sompting,  in  Sussex,  history  and  geography 
have  been  made  living  and  interesting  to  the 
children  by  dramatising  those  subjects  when- 
ever possible.  And  not  only  has  this  awaken- 
ing come  to  the  children,  but  in  many  villages 

207 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

to-day  ploughmen  and  sewing-maids,  work- 
men and  workwomen,  are  taking  part  in  drama 
and  dance  and  song. 

There  are  everywhere  signs  that  the  ugliness 
of  cities  has  reached  its  limit,  that  the  power 
conferred  by  mere  money  has  failed,  that  com- 
mercialism cannot  satisfy,  and  once  more  men 
and  women  are  returning  to  the  deeper  and 
more  abiding  rhythm  of  life  long  ago  broken 
by  the  rush  and  whirr  of  machinery.  We  are 
relearning  the  lesson  to-day  that  the  forces 
which  make  for  evil  are  apt  to  be  increased 
both  by  opposition  and  by  cowardly  acquies- 
cence, and  that  they  can  be  redeemed  only  by 
the  transmuting  power  of  beauty  and  of  art 
into  willing  servants  of  the  best  and  highest 
interests  of  the  nation. 

To  concentrate  these  newly  -  inaugurated 
forces  and  to  give  them  an  ever  widening 
opportunity  for  expression  is  the  task  which 
the  Festival  Association  has  set  itself  to  do. 

As  a  part  of  the  summer  season  of  1 910  at 
the  Memorial  Theatre,  a  Folk  Festival  was 
held  in  which  dancers  and  singers  from  a 
factory  in  Hull,  children  from  London,  country 
folk  from  the  immediate  neighbourhood,  and 
country  school  children  took  part.  The  Theatre 
was  filled  all  day  with  people  from  all  over 

208 


Photo  by  IV.  y.  Kilpatrick,  Dublin 

THE  LATE  GEORGE  R.   WEIR  AS  SIR  TOBY  BELCH 


THE    FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

England,  and  interested  spectators  from  coun- 
tries as  far  off  as  America  and  New  Zealand. 

The  actual  Folk  Festival  was  preceded  by 
a  competition  in  folk  dance  and  song,  and 
the  competitors  were  traditional  dancers  and 
singers  from  the  country  around  Stratford, 
and  children,  young  men,  and  young  women 
who  had  learnt  the  songs  and  dances  since 
they  were  revived  in  1905. 

During  the  three  weeks  of  the  Festival  daily 
classes  were  held  for  folk-song  singing,  morris 
and  country  dancing,  and  children's  singing- 
games,  especially  for  teachers  engaged  in  ele- 
mentary schools  and  physical  training  colleges. 
These  classes  were  well  attended,  and  the 
Parish  Parlour  where  they  were  held  became 
quite  a  meeting  ground  for  those  especially 
interested  in  the  study  of  folk-art  and  its  use 
as  a  factor  in  the  education  of  children. 

Many  distinguished  visitors,  including  His 
Highness  the  Gaekwar  of  Baroda,  came  to  the 
Parish  Parlour  to  see  the  classes.  On  each 
Saturday  morning,  before  the  departure  of  the 
week's  pupils  to  their  homes  all  over  England, 
a  little  informal  talk  was  given  by  Mrs.  F.  R. 
Benson,  the  Rev.  F.  Hodgson,  Mr.  Benson, 
Mr.  Flower  and  others,  and  one  Saturday  was 
memorable  because  the  Gaekwar  spoke  to  us 

209  o 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

of  the  life  of  his  people  in  India  and  the  link 
between  East  and  West  which  was  being 
strengthened  by  the  love  of  folk-art  and  of  all 
that  the  highest  drama  meant  to  the  people. 

Those  Saturday  morning  talks  will  live  for 
all  of  us  who  were  present  as  embodying  the 
ideals  for  which  it  is  hoped  these  visits  to 
Stratford-upon-Avon  will  stand. 

Excursions  were  arranged  to  places  of  in- 
terest in  the  neighbourhood,  and  many  happy 
hours  were  spent  boating  on  the  river.  There 
was  during  the  whole  Festival  a  delightful 
spirit  of  companionship  and  of  helpfulness 
which  promises  well  for  the  work  we  have 
so  much  at  heart. 

The  performance  of  Josephine  Preston 
Peabody's  play,  "  The  Piper/'  in  the  first 
summer  season,  at  which  were  gathered  so 
many  interested  in  the  education  of  the  young, 
set  that  note  of  beauty  and  of  joy  for  the 
children  which  it  is  hoped  will  always  be 
associated  with  Stratford-upon-Avon. 

"  Out  of  your  cage, 
Come  out  of  your  cage 
And  take  your  soul  on  a  pilgrimage ! 
Pease  in  your  shoes,  an  if  you  must ! 
But  out  and  away,  before  you're  dust : 
Scribe  and  Stay-at-home, 
210 


THE   FESTIVAL   MOVEMENT 

Saint  and  Sage, 
Out  of  your  cage, 
Out  of  your  cage  !  " 

was  the  message  which  went  out  in  1910  at  the 
beginning  of  the  new  venture,  and  it  is  the 
message  which  well  expresses  the  spirit  of  the 
whole  movement. 

There  is  already  established  an  office  in 
Guild  Street  which  is  a  central  bureau  of 
information  about  pageants,  folk-drama,  miracle 
plays,  folk-dancing,  folk-songs,  and  children's 
singing  games.  This  office  is  prepared  to 
supply  information  on  these  subjects,  and,  when 
required,  to  assist  local  initiative.  The  work 
of  the  office  is  also  to  keep  records  of  all 
dramatic  societies  and  their  performances,  and 
to  collect  information  as  to  plays,  acting  ver- 
sions, scenery,  and  dresses. 

One  of  the  objects  of  the  movement  is  to 
facilitate  and  encourage  dramatic  representa- 
tions throughout  the  country,  especially  in 
villages  by  the  villagers  themselves,  and  in 
schools  by  scholars,  for  purposes  of  education 
and  recreation. 

Greek,  Latin,  French,  and  German  plays 
have  already  been  produced  with  success  at 
the  public  schools  and  the  universities ;  his- 
torical episodes,  masques,  and  pageants  in 

211 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

elementary  schools  and  villages.  The  opinion 
of  many  of  the  teachers  who  have  tried  the 
experiment  confirms  the  idea  that  a  class  of 
students  will  learn  more  of  a  subject  in  three 
hours  by  assisting  at  a  play,  whether  as  actor 
or  audience,  than  in  three  weeks  by  any  other 
method.  Further,  that  in  the  school  play  there 
are  not  only  the  machinery  of  teaching  by  word 
and  pictures  any  special  subject,  but  also  the 
means  of  increasing  esprit  de  corps,  and  awak- 
ening an  intellectual  interest  in  the  dullest  of 
scholars.  A  very  poor  woman  was  lately  heard 
to  say  that  the  folk  dances  and  games  had 
"  knocked  more  into  her  child's  head  than  all 
the  other  schooling  she  had  ever  had ! " 
There  are  whole  scenes  in  history,  in  travels, 
in  Herodotus,  Chaucer,  Froissart,  Addison, 
Scott,  Jane  Austen,  Dickens,  Thackeray,  and 
others  ready  to  hand ;  there  are  legends  and 
myths,  English  and  foreign,  waiting  on  the 
book-shelves.  There  are  also  many  plays  that, 
from  the  form  in  which  they  are  cast  or  from 
some  peculiar  requirements,  are  more  suitable 
for  this  method  of  representation ;  many  such 
works,  capable  of  giving  noble  pleasure  and 
stirring  the  imagination  of  actors  and  audience, 
might  find  in  the  hall  and  in  the  schoolroom  a 
hearing  denied  them  in  the  theatre. 

212 


THE    FESTIVAL    MOVEMENT 

The  future  of  this  whole  movement  lies  with 
the  English  people  themselves. 

We  have  the  use  of  an  endowed  Theatre, 
the  assistance  of  a  stock  company  of  accom- 
plished artists,  and  a  School  of  Acting ;  and 
now  we  have  our  extended  Festival,  for  the 
development  of  which  there  is  also  the  nucleus 
of  an  endowment.  As  the  membership  of  the 
Association  grows,  and  as  the  endowment  fund 
also  grows,  all  that  we  wish  to  do  can  be 
accomplished. 

It  is  to  the  Association  which  has  already 
accomplished  so  much,  and  which  has  before 
it  so  hopeful  a  future,  that  we  invite  all  those 
men  and  women  of  good-will  who  would  see 
England  a  fairer  and  more  joyful  country  for 
the  coming  generation. 

The  foundations  were  well  laid  by  the 
founders  of  the  work  ;  it  is  for  us  to  build 
the  Temple  of  Life  and  of  Art,  and  to  give 
to  it  our  loyal  service  and  our  best  gifts. 


213 


II 

THE  REVIVAL  OF  FOLK-ART 
I. — IN  ENGLAND 

THE  revival  of  folk-art  in  song  and  dance, 
in  game  and  drama  is,  in  England  to-day,  an 
accomplished  fact.  The  future  development 
of  this  revival  is  still  on  the  knees  of  the  gods, 
but  there  are  those  who  see  in  it  unlimited 
possibilities  of  happiness  and  well-being  for  the 
coming  generations  of  England. 

There  is  also  to-day  a  new  and  different 
interest  in  folk-lore,  in  legend,  and  in  folk-tale, 
and  a  new  comprehension  of  what  both  science 
and  religion  may  learn  from  their  study. 

Sociologists  finding  the  problems  of  civilisa- 
tion too  difficult  to  unravel  in  the  complicated 
life  of  towns  and  cities,  are  studying  the  pre- 
historic life  of  individual  and  of  communal 
man,  hoping  that  by  following  the  threads  of 
progress  from  these  olden  days  onward  they 
may  discover  at  what  points  divergence  was 
made  on  to  a  mistaken  road,  that  they  may 
guide  the  future  on  to  better  lines. 

214 


THE    REVIVAL   OF    FOLK-ART 

Students  of  Eugenics  are  taking  facts  and 
premises  from  the  simplest  forms  of  life  and 
processes  on  which  to  found  helpful  suggestions 
for  the  improvement  of  a  race  which  has  to 
adapt  itself  to  an  ever  increasing  complexity  of 
environment. 

Artists,  too,  are  going  back  to  the  creations 
of  the  simple  and  unlettered  folk  that  they  may 
build  on  the  foundations  of  natural  taste  and 
emotion.  We  are  seeking  in  all  things  to 
penetrate  deep  into  the  heart  of  the  folk,  and 
so  we  are  finding  evidences  of  religion  and  of 
the  spiritual  life  not  in  the  wordy  disputations 
of  theologians,  but  in  the  appeal  which  the 
spirit  makes  to  the  deepest  instincts  of  the 
race,  as  shown  in  the  similarity  of  the  beliefs 
of  simple  folk  in  all  countries  and  in  all  times, 
as  illustrated  when  the  paganism  of  Greece  was 
merged  into  the  Christian  religion. 

It  is  interesting  to  look  back  some  twenty 
years  and  trace  the  origin  of  this  renaissance 
of  folk-art  which  is  so  completely  changing 
the  life  of  England  both  in  town  and  country. 

We  are  passing  on  from  the  negation  and 
denial  of  Puritan  days  to  a  Catholic  acceptance 
of  joy  and  of  beauty  as  our  national  inheritance. 

If  we  have  learnt  the  lesson,  which  is 
necessary  for  a  nation  no  less  than  for  an 

215 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

individual,  that  the  time  of  death  and  of 
negation  is  part  of  the  growth  in  life  and  fruit- 
fulness,  that  the  corn  of  wheat  must  fall  into 
the  earth  and  die  before  it  can  rise  to  golden 
harvest,  then  our  Puritan  ancestors  will  not 
have  built  in  vain,  and  we  can  be  trusted  to 
reap  the  harvest  of  joy  which,  in  tears,  they 
sowed. 

And  the  revival,  which  has  its  roots  in  the 
folk,  is  a  revival  of  art  which  is  not  separated 
from  life  and  work,  therefore  it  is  clean  and 
virile,  and  is  not  beset  with  the  dangers  of  an 
attenuated  preciosity  so  often  the  result  of  an 
artistic  renaissance.  One  Eastertide  a  working 
man  from  London,  who  spent  long  days  in 
hard  and  difficult  mechanical  work,  spent  a  week 
in  the  country.  It  was  a  late  Easter,  and  the 
garden  was  a  mass  of  spring  flowers.  For 
hours  he  sat  taking  his  fill  of  their  beauty, 
wanting  no  other  amusement  than  just  to  sit 
and  watch.  And  because  his  working  days 
were  hard  and  his  labour  honest,  so  his  love  of 
the  beauty  of  earth  and  sky  and  flowers  was 
clean  and  strong,  and  as  far  as  possible  removed 
from  that  of  the  pseudo-aesthete  who  prates  of 
art  and  the  artistic  temperament. 

Probably  the  first  seeds  of  this  revival 
amongst  the  people  were  sown  in  the  early 

216 


THE    REVIVAL   OF    FOLK-ART 

city  settlements,  which  were  first  established 
about  twenty  years  ago,  as  a  protest  against 
conditions  which  gave  to  one  class  all  the 
opportunities  of  enjoying  the  beautiful  things 
of  life.  A  dawning  consciousness  that  it  was 
true  of  all  classes  that  man  could  not  live  by 
bread  alone  sent  a  band  of  men  and  women 
into  the  poorest  districts  of  London  to  share  as 
far  as  it  was  possible  the  advantages  which 
leisure  and  education  had  given  them  with 
those  who  had  been  deprived  of  their  birth- 
right of  joy  and  beauty. 

The  educated  classes  had  thrown  off  the 
iron  yoke  of  Puritanism,  but  it  was  much  later 
before  the  working-class  was  allowed  a  share 
in  this  new  liberty. 

The  woman  who  encouraged  her  daughter  to 
dance  and  sing  and  take  an  intelligent  interest 
in  drama,  still  considered  these  things  wicked 
for  her  maid  and  her  dressmaker. 

But  in  these  settlements  men  and  women  of 
all  classes  came  together,  and  as  time  went  on 
the  demand  of  the  workers  for  a  fuller  life  was 
met  by  those  who  were  ready  to  meet  that 
demand,  and  music  and  dances  and  painting 
and  drama  were  brought  within  reach  of  those 
who  were  just  beginning  to  realise  how  much 
they  meant. 

217 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

And  as  ever  happens,  those  who  went  to 
give  found  that  they  were  great  receivers  too  ; 
what  they  gave  of  their  leisure  and  their  in- 
tellectual equipment  came  back  to  them  in 
strength  and  loyalty  and  an  insight  into  the 
deeper  truths  of  life,  unknown  to  those  who 
study  only  books.  The  folk-art  revival  is  a 
result  of  this  meeting  in  human  fellowship  of  all 
classes  and  of  all  conditions. 

The  revival  of  folk-dancing,  which  has  been 
such  an  important  landmark  in  the  history 
of  the  folk-art  revival,  was  taken  up  with 
enthusiasm  by  a  club  for  working  girls  which 
had  for  its  object  just  this  sharing  of  the  best 
things  of  life  with  those  to  whom  the  enjoyment 
of  them  would  have  been  otherwise  impossible. 
And  it  happened  on  this  wise.  For  many  years 
our  winter's  companionship  had  ended  in  a 
summer's  holiday  spent  in  the  country  and  by 
the  sea,  and  there  we  had  learned  to  know  and 
love  the  sights  and  sounds  of  the  country. 
We  became  familiar  with  racing  clouds,  with 
the  deep  tidal  river,  and  with  the  ever  chang- 
ing rhythm  of  the  sea.  It  was  not  strange, 
therefore,  that  a  little  working  girl  said  when 
she  first  heard  the  broken  rhythm  of  the 
beautiful  folk-song,  "The  Bold  Fisherman": 
"  Isn't  it  just  like  the  sound  of  the  little  waves 

218 


THE    REVIVAL   OF   FOLK-ART 

curling  overs?"  It  is  interesting  to  note  that 
the  same  idea  came  to  a  cultivated  musician 
who  heard  the  song  for  the  first  time. 

Florence  Warren,  whose  name  stands  to 
many  both  in  England  and  America  as  that 
of  the  finest  exponent  of  English  folk-dancing, 
first  learnt  to  know  and  love  the  sea  as  she 
sped  over  the  waves  on  a  moonlight  trip  in 
a  big  fishing  trawler,  that  held  all  the  party 
of  girls  spending  a  holiday  away  from  the 
city ;  and  I  like  to  think  that,  as  a  child  of 
eleven,  she  began  to  drink  in  from  Mother 
Earth  some  of  the  gaiety  which  has  made  her 
such  a  bringer  of  joy  to  both  English  and 
American  children  and  their  teachers. 

Besides,  from  our  country  holiday  we  had 
learned  much  from  song  and  dance  and  drama 
during  the  winter  evenings  we  spent  in  town, 
and  we  had  learnt  the  national  Scotch  dances 
and  danced  them  on  special  occasions  to  the 
sound  of  the  bagpipe,  played  by  the  gallant- 
stepping  piper  who  had  also  taught  the  steps 
of  the  dances.  And  we  had  given  our  winter 
to  Irish  folk-song  and  Irish  dances. 

Circumstances  had  for  a  long  time  been 
fitting  the  members  of  this  club  for  the  joyous 
service  to  their  country  which  has  set  the 
children  of  England  dancing  once  more  as 

219 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

they  danced  in  the  days  when  England  was 
merry  England  in  reality  as  well  as  in  name. 

In  the  autumn  of  1909  the  first  English 
folk-song  was  taught  to  the  members  of  the 
Esperance  Girls'  Club,  and  its  name,  "  The 
Seeds  of  Love,"  was  symbolic  of  the  harvest 
of  song  which  stands  high  and  golden  in  the 
land  to-day. 

The  effect  of  the  music  was  magical,  and 
although  to-day  they  know  some  hundred 
songs,  the  music  still  holds  its  charm,  both 
for  the  singers  and  for  those  who  come  again 
and  again  to  hear  the  songs,  until  one  is 
ashamed  of  the  days  when  we  gave  them  the 
artificial  and  insincere  music  which  was  all  we 
thought  them  capable  of  appreciating.  Then 
some  weeks  afterwards  we  heard  that  there 
were  still  alive  in  at  least  one  country  place 
the  old  morris  dances,  and  lute  men  were  in- 
vited to  London  to  teach  these  dances  of  the 
country-side. 

And,  again,  the  name  of  the  first  dance  learnt 
was  symbolic,  and  again  the  result  was  magical. 
In  less  than  half-an-hour  the  old  ceremonial 
dance  of  the  spring,  "  Bean-setting/'  was  being 
danced  in  a  part  of  London  where  twice  a  week 
laden  hay-carts  bring  the  odours  of  the  country 
right  into  the  heart  of  London. 

220 


THE    REVIVAL   OF   FOLK-ART 

It  is  said  that  there  is  no  third  generation  of 
Londoners,  and  one  wonders  sometimes,  as  one 
looks  at  the  way  in  which  this  revival  of  dance 
and  song  has  spread,  whether  there  was  not  some 
response  of  ancestral  memory  in  that  first  learn- 
ing of  songs  and  dances  by  these  London  girls. 

Experience  has  confirmed  the  first  impres- 
sions that  these  hard-working,  independent, 
healthy,  and  laughter-loving  daughters  of  the 
people  are  the  natural  interpreters  and  teachers 
of  these  folk-dances  which  have  come  from  the 
unlettered  and  simple  country  folk. 

In  England  there  is  danger  that  we  do  not 
recognise  that  which  the  Americans  have  been 
careful  to  make  quite  clear,  that  whereas  the 
classic  and  the  ballroom  dance  need  careful 
training  and  technical  skill,  the  folk-dance  is  a 
natural  expression  of  joy  and  well-being,  and 
needs  no  special  training  either  in  dancer  or 
teacher.  I  like  to  hear  it  said,  "  We  will  show 
you  a  folk-dance,"  and  not  "  We  will  teach  you 
one,"  because  this  is  really  what  the  teaching 
should  be. 

Folk-art,  if  it  is  genuine,  is  an  organic  thing, 
and  must  grow  and  develop  as  the  years  pass 
by,  and  the  dance  of  to-day  will  change  to- 
morrow if  it  still  expresses  the  genuine  emotion 
of  to-morrow. 

221 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

The  revival  of  the  love  of  drama  and  the 
actual  taking  part  in  it  of  those  who  at  best 
were  only  lookers-on,  is  another  hopeful  sign 
of  to-day. 

The  miracle  play,  the  Church's  way  of  teach- 
ing moral  and  religious  truths  to  simple  and 
unlettered  folk,  had  fallen  on  evil  days,  and 
almost  the  only  form  in  which  it  remained  for 
years  was  the  Punch  and  Judy  show,  always 
and  for  ever  dear  to  children  everywhere.  How 
many  of  us  remember,  as  we  look  on  at  the  antics 
of  the  puppets,  that  the  show  once  represented 
the  drama  of  the  betrayal  of  our  Lord  by  Judas 
Iscariot  and  Pontius  Pilate  ?  And  now  in  many 
towns  and  villages  truth  and  beauty  are  being 
held  up  for  worship,  and  treachery  and  lying 
shown  in  all  their  ugliness  by  plays  written  for 
and  acted  by  the  people  themselves. 

Ten  years  ago  it  would  have  been  difficult  to 
find  a  village  where  a  play  could  be  seen,  still 
less  one  in  which  the  villagers  took  part.  Not 
many  years  hence  every  village  will  have  its 
play,  with  its  own  stock  company  composed  of 
those  who  follow  the  plough,  shoe  the  horses, 
make  the  butter,  and  follow  all  the  ordinary 
occupations. 

In  Boxford  in  Berkshire  there  has  been 
given  for  eight  consecutive  years  a  masque  in 

222 


THE    REVIVAL   OF    FOLK-ART 

which  the  children  of  the  village  take  their 
part.  One  year  the  play  represented  the 
personification  of  the  rivers  and  streams  of 
the  county.  The  play  was  given  in  a  wood- 
land theatre,  and  the  children,  as  gnats  and 
dragon-flies,  darted  in  and  out,  or  as  trees 
and  tiny  streams  played  their  parts  as  only 
children  can. 

As  the  years  have  passed  this  play  has  be- 
come the  centre  of  the  village  life,  from  which 
radiate  many  forces  which  make  for  a  better 
and  a  happier  social  life. 

In  another  village  in  Somerset  there  is  given 
on  SS.  Innocents'  Day  a  play  which  tells  the 
story  of  Bethlehem  and  the  tidings  of  great 
joy  brought  by  the  angels  to  the  shepherds  as 
they  watched.  The  parts  are  taken  by  the 
shepherds  and  tillers  of  the  soil  who  live  in 
the  village^  and  it  is  under  the  direction  of  the 
parish  priest,  who  leaves  the  dialogue  mostly 
to  the  people  who  act  the  play,  only  reserving 
to  himself  the  rights  of  censor  should  the 
dialogue  become  too  local  and  too  personal 
for  the  peace  of  mind  of  the  audience! 

These  are  only  two  plays  out  of  very  many, 
and  inquiry  can  be  made  at  the  office  of  the 
Festival  Association  at  Stratford-upon-Avon 
for  a  list  of  plays  at  present  being  performed. 

223 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

What  has  been  the  effect  of  this  revival  of 
folk-art  in  the  present  generation  ?  This  is  a 
question  one  is  often  asked  by  those  who  are 
still  a  little  afraid  of  happiness  and  who  do  not 
quite  believe  that 

"  The  good  are  always  the  merry 
Save  by  an  evil  chance." 

It  has  meant,  and  will,  I  think,  always  mean, 
a  greater  patriotism  and  love  of  one's  country 
and  a  closer  knitting  together  of  class  and 
class. 

It  means  the  recovery  of  a  lost  happiness 
and  beauty  and  a  strengthening  of  moral  fibre, 
and  it  means  more  physical  well-being. 

It  means  gentler  manners  and  a  greater 
courtesy,  and  a  joy  of  living  that  will  make 
English  boys  and  girls  what  every  lover  of 
our  country  would  have  them,  upstanding, 
clean  living,  and  joyous. 


II. — THE  REVIVAL  OF  FOLK-ART  AND  THE  DRAMA 
IN  THE  UNITED  STATES 

The  revival  of  folk-dance,  folk-song,  and 
folk-games  is  already  one  of  the  features  of 
education  in  America. 

Especially  delightful  is  the  fact  that  the 
224 


THE    REVIVAL   OF   FOLK-ART 

Societies  which  exist  for  organising  the  play- 
time of  the  city  children  are  using  folk-dances 
and  games,  recognising  that  these  are  the 
natural  outlet  for  the  joy  of  life,  always  the 
inheritance  of  children,  however  sordid  and 
miserable  their  material  circumstances  may  be. 

The  interesting  feature  of  the  revival  in 
America  is  that,  as  there  are  living  there  the 
folk  of  every  nation  under  the  sun,  the  teachers 
do  not  teach  the  English  dramas  and  games, 
but  have  made  a  study  of  those  of  the  many 
nations  represented  by  the  children  in  their 
schools. 

The  experiment  in  America  is  therefore 
unique,  and  will  be  watched  by  all  those 
interested  in  the  subject  of  folk-art.  Perhaps 
in  the  future  a  new  school  of  music  and  dance 
will  arise,  founded  on  this  accumulated  know- 
ledge of  the  folk-music  of  all  nations. 

I  have  been  attending  every  kind  of  play 
during  the  past  three  months'  stay  in  the 
United  States.  I  have  gone  from  Maeter- 
linck at  the  New  Theatre,  to  Miver's  Music 
Hall  in  the  Bowery,  and  have  a  very  definite 
idea  of  the  strength  and  of  the  weakness  of  the 
presentations  I  have  seen.  In  the  first  place, 
I  have  never  seen  anything  so  beautiful  as  the 

225  p 


THE    SHAKESPEARE    REVIVAL 

setting,  lighting,  stage  effects,  and  dressing  of 
every  play  I  have  seen,  and  of  all  the  beautiful 
effects  the  scenes  in  "Sister  Beatrice"  at  the 
New  Theatre  were  beyond  all  words  most 
beautiful.  No  criticism  is  possible,  for  there 
was  not  only  richness  and  superb  colouring, 
but  also  a  wonderful  restraint  throughout. 

I  saw  another  symbolic  play  besides  "  Sister 
Beatrice,"  and  that  was  "The  Scarecrow,"  by 
Percy  Mackaye,  and  the  acting  in  these  two 
plays  was  beyond  criticism,  for  the  real  things 
which  they  symbolised  belong  to  no  age  and 
to  fio  nation.  The  struggle  between  earthly 
love  and  the  spiritual  life,  and  the  final  realisa- 
tion that  when  the  love  is  high  and  true  there 
is  no  antagonism,  belongs  to  all  men  ;  the  birth 
of  an  evil  through  love,  even  when  the  soul 
dwells  in  a  pitifully  grotesque  exterior,  is  not 
a  new  story,  and  can  be  interpreted  as  well 
by  an  American  as  by  a  Frenchman  or  an 
Englishman.  But  it  is  when  it  comes  to  the 
interpretation  of  modern  English  drama,  or 
of  a  drama  which  is  English  as  Shakespeare 
is  English,  that  the  first  difficulty  comes  in. 

I  do  not  think  it  possible  for  Shakespeare  to 
be  played  convincingly  by  any  man  or  woman 
who  has  not  lived  and  studied  in  England,  and 
under  some  one  who  is  saturated  with  all  the 

226 


THE    REVIVAL   OF    FOLK-ART 

best  traditions  of  the  English  stage.  I  have 
come  back  more  than  ever  convinced  that  the 
Stock  Company  and  School  of  Acting  which  we 
already  have,  which  it  is  hoped  will  be  much 
enlarged  and  strengthened  in  the  near  future, 
is  as  much  a  necessity  for  the  serious  dramatic 
artists  of  America  as  it  is  for  those  of  England. 
Some  amalgamation  could  surely  be  arranged 
by  which  American  dramatic  students  could 
study  in  England  and  be  attached  to  the 
School  of  Acting  at  Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The  New  Theatre  in  New  York  is  a  standing 
proof  of  the  lavish  generosity  of  Americans,  and 
of  their  patriotic  desire  that  their  country  shall 
have  the  best  its  sons  and  daughters  can  give 
her.  A  step  further  and  the  establishment 
of  a  co-operation  with  England  in  the  training 
of  its  artists,  and  America  would  have  the  finest 
dramatic  productions  of  the  world. 


227 


APPENDIX 


APPENDIX 

HOW  TO   TAKE   PART   IN   THE   MOVEMENT 
AT  STRATFORD-UPON-AVON 

HAVING  read  the  foregoing  chapters  the  reader  will  have 
some  idea  of  what  is  taking  place  and  about  to  take  place 
in  Stratford-upon-Avon.  And  the  question  may  be  asked, 
"How  may  I  take  part  in  so  valuable  a  movement? 

1.  By  writing  to  the  Secretary  of  the  Festival  Association 
and  making  further  inquiry  as  to  how  to  get  into  touch 
with  the  various  developments. 

2.  By  coming  either  alone  or  with  a  party  of  friends,  to 
either  the  Birthday  Festival  in  the  Spring  or  the  Shake- 
speare Season  in  the  Summer.    No  better  idea  can  be  formed 
of  the  work  than  by  living  in  the  atmosphere  of  Stratford- 
upon-Avon  for  a  few  days  and  taking  part  in  the  revels. 

3.  If  actual  work  is  impossible  one  can  become  a  sub- 
scriber.   Subscribers  of  a  minimum  of  55.  annually  become 
Associates;    donors  of  a  minimum  of  ^5   become  Life 
Associates   of    the   Festival   Association.      Donors   of   a 
minimum  of  £100  are  eligible  for  election  as  Governors 
of  the  Memorial  Theatre, 

Or,  one  may  help — 

(i.)  By  encouraging  Morris  Dancing  among  the  villages 
and  cities.     By  forming  classes  for  teachers.     By  sending 

231 


APPENDIX 

teams  to  the  annual  Folk  Festival  held  in  July  at  Stratford- 
upon-Avon. 

(ii.)  By  encouraging  in  the  same  way  Folk  Singing  in  the 
villages  and  towns. 

(iii.)  By  writing  small  dramatic  scenes  or  plays  and 
getting  them  performed  in  local  centres,  and  perhaps  bring- 
ing performers  to  the  Folk  Festival  to  act  such  village 
plays ;  to  make  centres  so  that  the  neighbouring  villages 
can  obtain  information  about  performing  a  play,  making  or 
hiring  costumes  and  scenery,  with  the  thousand  and  one 
details  of  a  small  production,  such  centres  always  to  be  in 
touch  with  the  general  centre  at  the  Festival  Association  in 
Stratford-upon-Avon. 

(iv.)  When  more  important  dramatic  work  is  undertaken 
to  arrange  with  the  Central  Office  at  Stratford-upon-Avon 
for  books  of  the  plays  and  for  the  hire  of  costumes  and 
scenery  at  a  reasonable  cost.  (Many  helpers  are  needed 
to  prepare  prompt-books  and  undertake  to  copy  from 
manuscript,  to  colour  photographs,  to  write  out  descrip- 
tions of  costumes,  &c.) 

Inquiries  concerning  Theatre  Tickets,  Apartments, 
Lodgings,  &c.,  to  be  addressed  to  Miss  A.  Rainbow,  Box 
Office,  Memorial  Lecture  Room,  Stratford-upon-Avon. 
Telephone  45. 

ARRANGEMENTS  FOR  STUDENTS  AND  TEACHERS. 

All  Teachers  and  bond  fide  Students  are  granted  special 
privileges  for  the  Summer  Season.  Full  particulars  can  be 
obtained  from  the  Secretary,  Festival  Association,  Stratford- 
upon-Avon. 


232 


THE  shortest  and  quickest  route  to  the  Home  of  Shake- 
speare from  London  and  a  number  of  Provincial  Towns  in 
the  Midlands  and  the  North  of  England  is  by  the  Great 
Central  Railway.  The  traveller  from  London  is  able  to 
journey  from  Marylebone  by  express  trains  in  just  over 
two  hours  to  Stratford-on-Avon.  During  the  season  these 
run  four  days  a  week,  viz.  on  Mondays,  Wednesdays, 
Thursdays,  and  Saturdays,  and  return  to  town  by  an 
equally  quick  train,  for  the  modest  fare  of  6/6  for  the 
day,  and  4/6  half-day.  The  inclusive  fare  of  12/6  pro- 
vides rail  journey  from  London  (Marylebone)  to  Stratford- 
on-Avon  and  back,  conveyance  from  Station  to  Hotel, 
luncheon  at  "  Golden  Lion  "  Hotel,  circular  drive  to  places 
of  interest  in  Stratford-on-Avon  and  Shottery,  afternoon 
tea  at  Hotel.  The  circular  rail  and  motor  tour  fare  of 
1 1/6  includes  rail  journey  from  London  (Marylebone)  to 
Stratford-on-Avon  and  back,  and  a  tour  by  motor  to 
Anne  Hathaway's  cottage,  Shottery,  Warwick  Castle, 
Guy's  ClirTe,  Kenilworth  Castle,  Leamington,  and  back  to 
Shakespeare's  Birthplace,  Stratford-on-Avon.  Particulars 
of  these  facilities  are  obtainable  at  Marylebone  Station, 
any  G.C.R.  Town  Office  or  Agency,  or  by  post  from 
the  Company's  Publicity  Bureau,  216  Marylebone  Road, 
London,  N.W. 


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THE  quickest  and  shortest  route  between  London 
and  Stratford-on-Avon  for  Shakespeare's  country 
is  by  "  The  Shakespeare  Route  "  on  the  Stratford- 
upon-Avon  and  Midland  Junction  Railway. 

This  newly-organised  and  important  Railway 
links  up  three  Great  Trunk  Lines  of  England 
(Great  Central,  Midland,  and  London  &  North- 
Western  Railway),  and  is  thus  enabled  to  give 
the  best  and  most  expeditious  service  from 

ALL  PARTS  TO  STRATFORD-ON-AVON. 

For  full  particulars  of  Train  Service  and  all 
information  apply  to  RUSSELL  WILLMOTT, 
Manager,  Stratford-on-Avon. 


237 

For  Sketch-map  see  over. 


"SHAKE 

STRATFORD-U PON-AVON    A 


ARE  ROUTE" 
MIDLAND  JUNCTION    RAILWAY 


OAUVILi-E 

ROTHLI 


Printed  by  BALLANTYNE,  HANSON  &>  Co. 
Edinburgh  &*  London 


UNIVERSITY  OF  CALIFORNIA  LIBRARY, 
BERKELEY 


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